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Feds walk back claim that Capitol rioters sought 'to capture and assassinate' officials

Feds walk back claim that Capitol rioters sought 'to capture and assassinate' officials
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Federal officials on Friday sought to walk back claims that some of the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday intended to “capture and assassinate elected officials.”

The detail was included in a court filing Thursday, in which federal prosecutors in Arizona pushed to keep Jacob Anthony Chansley, known as “QAnon Shaman,” in detention, arguing he was a flight risk.

Prosecutors wrote in the filing 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 in the United States Government.”

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The detail was reported by multiple outlets, including The Hill, and followed concerns raised by lawmakers and others over footage of the Capitol breach that showed rioters chanting "Hang Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceSicknick had two strokes, died of natural causes after Capitol riot The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults now eligible for COVID vaccines The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults can get vaccine; decision Friday on J&J vax MORE." 

However, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Arizona told The Hill later Friday that the line about rioters wanting to capture and harm elected officials was struck from the memorandum at the request of the government during a court hearing. 

Acting U.S. Attorney for D.C. Michael Sherwin, the top prosecutor in Washington, D.C., said there was no “direct evidence” to back the claims, according to multiple reports. 

“Right now, we don’t have any direct evidence of kill/capture teams,” Sherwin said, according to Politico.

Sherwin added that there may have been a “disconnect” on evidence obtained in the cases as prosecutors across the country coordinate, according to the news outlet. 

“There were other prosecutors,” Sherwin said. "That may be a disconnect that may be adding information that’s not directly related to what we have.”

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The Hill has reached out to Sherwin's office for comment. 

The amended filing comes as authorities build cases against scores of individuals from across the country who stormed the Capitol building. 

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday that more than 100 people have been arrested so far in connection to the riot and dozens more have been identified as potential suspects. The Washington Post reported last week that the FBI was investigating whether some rioters sought to harm lawmakers or staff.

Sherwin said Friday that his office has brought more than 98 criminal prosecutions, according to Reuters, and has opened investigations into over 275 people in connection with the riot. 

Chansley — who was seen wearing fur and horns in the Capitol— was charged last week with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

The Thursday memo alleged that Chansley left a note for Vice President Pence at the Senate chamber dais that read “it’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”

When asked what the note meant, authorities say Chansley went on a “lengthy diatribe” describing Pence and other U.S. leaders “as infiltrators involved in various types of wrongdoing.”

Prosecutors also stated that Chansley has said he wants to return to D.C. for President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenObama, Clinton reflect on Mondale's legacy Biden, Harris commend Mondale in paving the way for female VP Mondale in last message to staff: 'Joe in the White House certainly helps' MORE’s inauguration, and has the ability to do so. They said he could quickly raise money for travel “as one of the leaders and mascots of QAnon.”

UPDATED: This story was updated at 6 p.m. to reflect new information from prosecutors