Prosecutors pursuing charges against the vandals who stormed the U.S. Capitol have retreated from one of the most severe allegations against the rioters: that they wanted to kill lawmakers in the process of certifying the election for Democrat Joe Biden.
Federal prosecutors originally maintained that they had “strong evidence” that the fringe mob that assaulted the Capitol on Jan. 6 intended to “capture and assassinate elected officials.”
Yet “strong” evidence has now become no “direct evidence” that there was any intent to kidnap or kill any of the elected officials certifying the Electoral College results.
According to court records, that “strong” evidence included “Chansley’s own words and actions at the Capitol,” and “supports that the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States Government.”
Chansley referred to Jacob Chansley, the Arizona man and U.S. Navy veteran who, donning his horned headdress and carrying a spear decorated with an American flag, has emerged as the face of the violent rioters.
The prosecutors’ claims were made in court records in which they argued that Chansley should remain in jail awaiting trial.
A similar situation arose in the case of Air Force Col. Larry Brock Jr., who was arrested this week in Texas. He had been photographed on the Senate floor wearing a helmet and heavy vest and carrying what appeared to be zip-tie handcuffs.
A prosecutor alleged that Brock sought “to kidnap, restrain, perhaps try, perhaps execute members of the U.S. government.”
But Brock’s attorney has pointed out that he faces only misdemeanor charges so far, and that prosecutors have no direct evidence he smashed doors or windows to access the Capitol or committed any violent acts once inside.
The Washington Examiner reported that Brock claimed to have picked the zip-tis up off the floor – something an FBI agent allowed was a possibility under questioning by Brock’s lawyer.
Acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin told reporters on Friday that the most significant allegations against some of the rioters are unfounded as of the moment.
“We don’t have any direct evidence of kill-capture teams,” Sherwin said.
Sherwin blamed the original assessment on a “disconnect” between prosecutors in the nation’s capital and those in the districts of the protesters.
“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,” Sherwin said, according to JustTheNews.com.
“And that has complicated things.”