US Attorney: No ‘Direct Evidence’ of Plot to Kidnap, Kill Lawmakers in Capitol Breach

January 15, 2021 Updated: January 15, 2021

The acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia on Friday said there is no “direct evidence” suggesting that rioters who breached the Capitol last week were planning to kidnap or kill lawmakers.

“We don’t have any direct evidence of kill-capture teams,” U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin told reporters Friday.

Federal prosecutors in a different district—in Arizona—had issued a court filing alleging there was evidence rioters wanted “to capture and assassinate elected officials.”

Arizona prosecutors previously said that “Qanon shaman” Jacob Chansey, seen wearing horns and shirtless in the Senate chamber, allegedly left a note saying that “it’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.” They further stipulated “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.”

That claim was also echoed by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), a critic of President Donald Trump.

Sherwin said the U.S. attorney’s office in D.C. is leading the effort to prosecute those who breached the Capitol, but he said there might have been a “disconnect” on the evidence in the cases.

“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,” Sherwin said.

“We need to work with other districts to not only find these people but have initial appearances in districts across the United States,” Sherwin continued. “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.”

The prosecutor further noted that “we have specialized prosecutors here working with specialized counterterrorism investigators looking at these type of organizations for these most egregious acts.”

Sherwin then again stressed that prosecutors “don’t have any direct evidence of kill-capture teams.”

Neither the Arizona U.S. attorney’s office nor Sasse issued public comments after Sherwin’s comments to reporters Friday.

FBI official Steven D’Antuono on Friday called on suspects who were linked to the breach to turn themselves in.

“To those of you who took part in the violence, here’s something you should know: Every FBI field office in the country is looking for you,” D’Antuono stated. “As a matter of fact, even your friends and family are tipping us off.”

Capitol Breach
Capitol police officers stand outside of fencing that was installed around the exterior of the Capitol grounds, in Washington on Jan. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The Justice Department in separate court filings said that social media network Parler, which was de-platformed by Big Tech companies following the Capitol breach, helped identify Eduard Florea, the person behind an account where a number of threats originated relating to elected officials and last week’s violence at the Capitol.

According to the complaint and statements made in court, the man used the name “LoneWolfWar” in running a social media account on Parler, which he used to post threatening statements online. These included remarks about killing a senator-elect and plans to travel to Washington “as part of a group armed with firearms ready to engage in violence,” the Justice Department said.

The U.S. Army, meanwhile, confirmed Friday that up to 25,000 National Guard members will be stationed around D.C. during Jan. 20’s Inauguration Day. That is an increase of about 5,000 troops from a prior update.

“Our National Guard soldiers and airmen are set around the city to protect our nation’s Capital,” National Guard Bureau Chief Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson said in the statement.

Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.