Fevered reporting about efforts to abduct and even kill members of Congress and the vice president are without foundation, the Justice Department admitted, after prosecutors falsely asserted such a plot in court, Joe Lauria reports.
By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News
The U.S. Justice Department has reversed an earlier assertion in court by prosecutors that protesters who broke into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 had plans to “capture and assassinate elected officials.”
Instead, the head of the DOJ investigation into the Capitol siege admitted that federal prosecutors filed a misleading statement before a federal judge in Arizona that was intended to prevent Jacob Chansley, aka Jake Angeli, from being released on bail.
The DOJ said that though there were calls to kill officials during the two-hour takeover of the Capitol, no evidence has been discovered yet to prove any serious effort to carry out such a plan.
“There is no direct evidence at this point of kill-capture teams and assassination,” Michael Sherwin, the Washington DC federal district attorney running the investigation of the attack, told reporters, Agence France-Presse reported. Sherwin said it may be “appropriate” to raise it at trial, but at this point it could “mislead the court.”
The original story of intentions to kill officials has entered the media discourse and is likely to remain a Democratic talking point despite the DOJ reversal. The only major media outlets that reported the new story is NBC News and The Washington Post. It has not appeared in The New York Times or on CNN’s website, for instance.
Having saturated the public with days of lurid tales of intentions to hang Vice President Mike Pence and abduct House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it will be hard to shake such beliefs without reporting the DOJ’s reversal with the same intensity.
The original statement filed in court said: “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 of the United States government.”
There has been no suggestion that the prosecutors in Arizona who made the false claim are being investigated for misleading the court.
The admission dramatically changes the story, repeated as Democratic Party talking points, and undermines the unquestioned certainty that what took place was an attempted coup against the United States government. The new DOJ stance might also weaken efforts to charge Capitol rioters and intruders with “seditious conspiracy” charges for allegedly attempting to overthrow the government.
Consortium News has been among the few media outlets to question the coup narrative from the start.