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DOJ walks back claim Capitol rioters wanted to 'capture and assassinate' lawmakers

The Justice official in charge of the investigation said Friday there's no 'direct evidence' US Capitol rioters wanted to 'capture and assassinate' lawmakers.

WASHINGTON — Federal authorities said Friday afternoon that there is "no direct evidence of kill and capture teams" among the U.S. Capitol rioters, walking back the claims in a court filing that alleged members of the mob that stormed the Capitol intended to "capture and assassinate" lawmakers. 

Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., referenced claims made in a court filing by federal prosecutors as part of their argument for why Jake Chansley, an Arizona man who sported a horned hat and face paint during the siege, should remain detained until his trial.  

The initial filing had claimed, "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." 

But Sherwin, who is leading the investigation into the deadly attack, contradicted the allegation on Friday, saying there was no "direct evidence of kill and capture teams." The U.S. Attorney's office in Arizona said it would be amending its filing, according to Reuters

Sherwin added that there "may be a disconnect that may be adding information that's not directly related to what we have." 

The 33-year-old self-described "QAnon Shaman" told FBI investigators he and other "patriots" from Arizona went to the Capitol at the request of President Donald Trump.                 

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Credit: AP
FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo supporters of President Donald Trump are confronted by U.S. Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber inside the Capitol in Washington.

In Thursday's filing, prosecutors also said Chansley left a note on the Senate Chamber dais for Vice President Mike Pence, warning that “it's only a matter of time, justice is coming.”

Pence had been in the Senate chamber presiding over the Electoral College certification as the mob of pro-Trump supporters breached the Capitol.

Prosecutors also claimed in the filing that Chansley has expressed interest in returning to Washington for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. 

Chansley is due in federal court for a detention hearing on Friday. Meanwhile, his lawyer has claimed that Trump should pardon his client because he was just accepting the president’s invitation "with honorable intentions."

RELATED: St. Louis lawyer representing Capitol rioter seen in viral photos says Trump should pardon him

In another Capitol riot case, prosecutors in Texas have said a retired Air Force officer was carrying plastic zip-tie handcuffs amid the siege because he meant “to take hostages.”  

Five people died during last week's siege, including a Capitol police officer, a woman shot by police and three people who had medical emergencies.

So far, more than 100 people have been arrested in the Capitol riot, with charges ranging from curfew violations to serious federal felonies related to theft and weapons possession. The FBI and DOJ said this week they expect hundreds of charges as the investigation continues. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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