The Justice Department described last week’s storming of the Capitol as “a violent insurrection that attempted to overthrow the United States Government” in a detention memo for a self-styled space alien and “QAnon Shaman” who was allegedly armed with a spear, bare-chested, and wearing a buffalo helmet during the siege.
Jacob Chansley, also known as Jacob Angeli, a former Navy officer and well-known purveyor of the QAnon conspiracy theory, was arrested and charged with six counts, including disorderly conduct, disrupting government functions, and illegally entering the Capitol “in an effort to prevent the Electoral College votes from being certified.”
U.S. Attorney Michael Bailey argued in an 18-page detention memo that Chansley should be jailed pending his trial because he poses a threat. The prosecutor described Chansley, who gained infamy last week for his distinctive costume, as “the radicalized follower-turned-leader of a dangerous extremist group, and a symbol of the insurrection and assault on the Capitol last week.” He added that “by Chansley’s own admissions to the FBI and news media, the insurrection is still in progress and he intends to continue participating.”
Prosecutors said 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.”
U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin said earlier this week that specialized strike forces were also looking into potential sedition charges, which haven’t happened yet.
The Justice Department noted that Chansley “has committed a felony that involves the use of a dangerous weapon (a spear)” and argued that “there are serious risks that he will flee and obstruct or attempt to obstruct justice” and continues to be a “danger to the community.”
Bailey said that while Capitol Police officers were attempting to quell the crowd inside the Capitol, Chansley “approached and screamed, among other things, that this was their house, and that they were there to take the Capitol, and to get congressional leaders” and “used his bullhorn to communicate that they were there to take out several United States congressmen.”
Officers managed to calm some of the protesters and directed them to leave, and “most protestors complied, but Chansley disobeyed the order and instead began heading up a different stairwell towards the Senate floor.” One officer, who was “alone with more than 25 rioters in the Senate Chamber, attempted to engage with Chansley and asked for his assistance to use the bullhorn to get the protestors out of the Chamber,” but “instead of doing so, Chansley ran up on the dais,” where Vice President Mike Pence had just been presiding, and he proceeded to “begin posing.”
Chansley also wrote a note to Pence, saying, “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”
When Chansley called the FBI’s Washington Field Office the next day, he confessed and “said that … Pence is a child-trafficking traitor” but claimed he didn’t mean his note as a threat. When asked about whether he would return for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, he said, “I’ll still go, you better believe it. For sure I’d want to be there, as a protestor,” according to the report.
Chansley’s lawyer, Albert Watkins, who is angling for President Trump to pardon his client, told the Washington Post that Chansley acted in a “peaceful and compliant fashion” and that “he took seriously the countless messages of President Trump.”
Chansley told NBC News that “the fact that we had a bunch of our traitors in office hunker down, put on their gas masks, and retreat into their underground bunker — I consider that a win,” and he added that he’d driven to the nation’s capital from Arizona at the request of Trump that all “patriots” come to the district that day.
The Democratic-led House voted on Wednesday to impeach Trump, accusing him of inciting an insurrection.
“Chansley has spoken openly about his belief that he is an alien, a higher being, and he is here on Earth to ascend to another reality,” prosecutors wrote. “He subscribes to QAnon, a group who believes a debunked and fictitious conspiracy claim that Satan-worshipping cannibalistic pedophiles are running a global child sex-trafficking ring and plotting against President Donald Trump.”
Investigators warned that Chansley “has the ability to quickly raise large sums of money for travel through non-traditional sources as one of the leaders and mascots of QAnon, a group commonly referred to as a cult (which preaches debunked and fictitious anti-government conspiracy theories that a deep state is out to take down the current administration).”
The prosecutor noted that “the FBI has received information indicating that ‘armed protests’ are being planned at all 50 state capitols and the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. in the days leading up to” Biden’s inauguration. The Justice Department said that “at this juncture in our Nation’s history, it is hard to imagine a greater risk to our democracy and community than the armed revolution of which Chansley has made himself the symbol.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray warned on Thursday about an “extensive amount” of “concerning online chatter” related to potential violence at events surrounding Biden’s inauguration. Wray said that federal authorities have already arrested more than 100 people for their roles in the siege of the Capitol and have identified over 200 suspects, too.
Several people who participated in the chaos and violence have been charged with federal crimes, though it is not yet known who planted the pipe bombs outside the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee headquarters.
Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran and Trump supporter, was shot by an officer while trying to climb through a broken window as a crowd tried to break down a door in the Capitol. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died on Jan. 7 “due to injuries sustained while on-duty” after he was “injured while physically engaging with protesters,” according to Capitol Police.
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