As bad as the deadly Capitol riot was, it could have been far worse. According to a court filing Friday, the plan was “to capture and assassinate elected officials.”
Federal prosecutors used precisely those words to keep suspect Jacob Anthony Chansley behind bars. He was the man seen wearing a headdress and colorful face paint while rallying rioters inside the Capitol while carrying a bullhorn and a spear.
It has also been learned that Vice President Mike Pence, a specific target of rioters, had not yet been evacuated from the Senate chamber when rioters began breaching the building. According to law enforcement and video footage, Pence was still in the chamber nearly 15 minutes later as the rioters forced their way through the halls of Congress. About a minute later, a Capitol policeman distracted rioters away from the chamber.
According to three people who spoke to The Washington Post on condition of anonymity, the rioters, who had earlier chanted “Hang Mike Pence,” would have caught a glimpse of the vice president being whisked away had they arrived on the scene just seconds earlier.
The Secret Service declined to comment, except to say Pence “was secure at all times.”
The allegation of attempted murder and kidnapping of Pence and others is supported by “strong evidence, including Chansley’s own words and actions at the Capitol,” according to prosecutors. A retired Air Force reservist, Larry Rendell Brock was also arrested after he was identified as the man carrying plastic zip tie-like restraints onto the Senate floor. Brock has since been released to home confinement.
Al Watkins, Chansley’s attorney, has denied his client intended to kill Pence or anyone else, describing Chansley as an ardent Trump supporter deserving of a presidential pardon.
“He felt like he was answering the call of our president,” Watkins said on CNN Thursday night. “My client wasn’t violent. He didn’t cross over any police lines. He didn’t assault anyone.”
The intent to assassinate is one of the new disturbing details that have recently emerged about last week’s deadly riot. Investigators are also looking into the alleged complicity of some congressional representatives and Capitol police officers.
Nearly 100 people had been charged at last count. Officials expected that number to reach 300 by the end of Friday.
Pence And Other Officials Were Marked For Assassination The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ International Business Times.