News & Politics

Did Capitol Rioter Mean to 'Capture and Assassinate' Lawmakers? Prosecutors Disagree on Intent

AP Photo/John Minchillo

The headlines in major media are chilling.

“Prosecutor: Capitol rioter aimed ‘to take hostages’” – AP

“Rioters wanted to ‘capture and assassinate’ lawmakers, prosecutors say. A note left by the ‘QAnon Shaman’ is evidence.” – WaPo

“US says Capitol rioters intended to ‘capture and assassinate’ elected officials” – CNN

“DOJ Attorneys: Trump’s Mob Intended To ‘Capture And Assassinate’ Elected Officials” – TPM

Hair-raising, to be sure. But is it true?

Department of Justice prosecutors made the charge in a court hearing on bond for “QAnon Shaman,” AKA Jacob Chansley. But the prosecutor in Washington said there was “no direct evidence” of any such plan. I guess a guy wearing bull horns and fur while carrying an American flag spear and wearing face paint has to be taken seriously, but really, “Capture and assassinate”?

Washington Examiner:

U.S. Attorney Michael Bailey argued in a detention memo that “strong evidence, including Chansley’s own words and actions at the Capitol, supports that the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Weimer, meanwhile, told a judge on Thursday that Brock “means to take hostages — he means to kidnap, restrain, perhaps try, perhaps execute members of the U.S. government,” when arguing for keeping him behind bars.

But acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin, the top prosecutor in the nation’s capital who has been handling the sprawling investigation for the Justice Department, seemed to hit the pause button on that during a Friday press call, saying that “there is no direct evidence at this point in time of kill-capture teams or assassination.”

Clearly, the Feds want Chansley behind bars, at least until after the inauguration. If you ask me, he needs to be examined by a qualified psychiatrist and put away for his own protection. But why feed the hysterical narrative of the left that the U.S. is experiencing some kind of right-wing insurrection?

“The cases are all being charged here in D.C., and with our law enforcement partners, and what makes this case in particular unprecedented and unusual and extremely complex is the fact that, after the event, obviously thousands of people went back to their home districts. And that has complicated things … We need to work with other districts to not only find these people but have initial appearances in districts across the United States,” Sherwin said. “There were appearances in two districts, I believe you’re making reference to, I believe Texas and Arizona, and at some of those hearings, there were other prosecutors — that may be a disconnect, that may be adding information that’s not directly related to what we have.”

Isn’t that the same thing as just making stuff up?

I think they should throw the book at these insurrectionists and they should go to jail. What they did was deadly serious, unnecessary, and damaging to democracy.

But is it too much to ask that the cases proceed based on real evidence and not wild accusations that play into prejudices of the popular mood? The atmosphere in the country right now is as tense as I’ve ever seen it. Setting up a kangaroo court to try the insurrectionists won’t help anything.