The man accused of crashing a box truck into barriers near the White House in a bid to overthrow the government planned to give a speech announcing the end of U.S. democracy, prosecutors said.
Sai Varshith Kandula, 19, of Chesterfield, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, was being held without bail pending a hearing Tuesday. He was arrested after the crash May 22 and charged with depredation of property of the United States.
Investigators and prosecutors, however, have suggested that the weightier matter was his alleged intention to seize power and harm the president if necessary.
A memo federal prosecutors filed Friday in support of keeping Kandula behind bars with no conditions before a potential trial said he kept a journal that included a coup speech he planned to give had he taken over the government after the crash.
The memo quotes a passage of the journal, which the defendant described as a “green book,” that describes a post-democratic U.S. He addresses “my fellow citizens of America” in prescribing historic change.
“As I am familiar with the [unknown] of this country being a democratic nation, and this will no longer be the case,” the passage reads, according to the memo. “There shall be consequence if civil unrest happens. To make it clear Any opposition will be met with death penalty to make it clear: (kill president) As you have seen, we will declare martial until the situation has been [unknown]. We will rebuild this world.”
The defendant, who allegedly grabbed a Nazi flag from the cargo area of the rented U-Haul just before he was apprehended, ended the passage with the words “Sieg hail,” echoing but misspelling the Nazi motto that means “hail victory.”
No one was injured in the crash at 9:35 p.m. The Ford commercial truck struck bollards at an entrance to Lafayette Square, north of the White House grounds, prosecutors said. The motorist backed up and struck them again, and the truck apparently was disabled at that point, they said.
Kandula told Secret Service agents he planned to seize power and would kill President Joe Biden if necessary. He praised Adolf Hitler as a “strong leader,” according to the memo.
Included in the memo were photos of the bollards the vehicle struck. They protect a pathway that leads directly to the White House, which can be seen in the distance.
Prosecutors argue that Kandula is a danger to the community and a flight risk because he has visited India multiple times. They said he is a lawful permanent U.S. resident subject to deportation if he is convicted.
The government argued that the attack on federal grounds was planned out, including travel from the St. Louis area to Washington and the rental of the box truck.
Kandula’s defense had yet to file a response. It wasn’t clear whether he has legal counsel. The federal public defender’s office in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Kandula claimed success after the crash, even as he was deprived of freedom, according to the memo. He told Secret Service agents he believed his writings would reach a wider audience, it said.
“Either way,” prosecutors quoted him as saying, “whether I got into the White House or not, my message was received.”
Kandula was scheduled to appear in federal court in Washington at 3 p.m. Tuesday for a hearing on whether he should remain behind bars pending a potential trial.
Ken Dilanian is the justice and intelligence correspondent for NBC News, based in Washington.