Watkins offered the defense of his client at a news conference Friday after Chansley’s federal court hearing in which he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for his role in the insurrection.
‘He had a fondness for Trump that was not unlike the first love a man may have for a girl, or a girl for a man, or man for a man,’ Watkins said of his client.
‘The first love always, always maintains a tender and soft spot in the heart of the lover.’
Chansley, 33, of Phoenix,
At a press conference on Friday, attorney Al Watkins argued that ‘QAnon Shaman’ Jacob Chansley has mental health vulnerabilities and was seduced by Donald Trump to participate in the riot
Chansley, who became the face of the Capitol riot due to his outlandish garb, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice Friday
Chansley, 33, of Phoenix Arizona could face up to five years in prison, but prosecutors say they will likely seek a shorter sentence. He has been in prison since shortly after the riot
He could face up to five years in prison, but federal prosecutors plan to seek a penalty between 44 months and the maximum five years, while Watkins hinted that he would argue that Chansley should be freed on time served.
Watkins also reiterated his insistence that Chansley now disavows the QAnon conspiracy theory, and said his client wants to take responsibility for his actions.
‘Today Jake made a monumental step toward doing right by our nation,’ said Watkins, who argued that Chansley has mental health vulnerabilities and was seduced by Donald Trump to participate in the riot.
Chansley had been a supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory that casts Trump as a savior figure and elite Democrats as a cabal of Satanist pedophiles and cannibals.
In an earlier statement, Watkins asserted that Chansley ‘has repudiated the `Q´ previously assigned to him and requests future references to him be devoid of use of the letter `Q´.’
Watkins said that Chansley had faced ‘a great deal of familial pressure not to take a plea’ from family members who still embrace the dubious theory that Trump will resume the office of presidency imminently and pardon him.
Chansley is seen in a court sketch earlier this year. He is one of more than 600 people who have been arrested for taking part in the riot
‘It was a really brave thing for him to do,’ Watkins said of Chansley agreeing to plead guilty.
Watkins insisted that Chansley did not have violent or malevolent intentions when he joined the mob that stormed the Capitol.
Chansley himself was seen howling from the dias of the Senate president, where prosecutors say he wrote a threatening note to then-Vice President Mike Pence that read: ‘It’s Only A Matter of Time. Justice Is Coming!’
‘In his heart and in his mind he was helping the president save the country,’ said Watkins.
‘Jacob Chansley did not have a plan…he was half naked, tattooed, on a winter day in DC,’ the attorney said. ‘Granted, he had the best costume of the day, he had the best look.
Trump loyalists gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, breaking windows and clashing with police
Prosecutors said Chansley went into the Capitol carrying a US flag attached to a wooden pole topped with a spear, ignored an officer’s commands to leave, went into the Senate chamber and wrote a threatening note to then-Vice President Mike Pence
While in detention, Chansley underwent mental examinations and was diagnosed by prison officials with transient schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety.
Before entering the plea, Chansley was found by a judge to be mentally competent.
His lawyer Watkins said the solitary confinement that Chansley faced for most of his time in jail has had an adverse effect on his mental health and that his time under mental evaluation in Colorado helped him regain his sharpness.
‘I am very appreciative for the court’s willingness to have my mental vulnerabilities examined,’ Chansley said before pleading guilty to a charge of obstructing an official proceeding.
Watkins noted that prosecutors had acknowledged Chansley was ‘not a planner or organizer’ of the riot.
Chansley’s mother Martha is seen above. Watkins said that Chansley faced pressure from his mother and grandfather not to take a plea, because they believe Trump will resume office
Chansley formerly vocally supported the QAnon conspiracy theory that casts Trump as a savior figure and elite Democrats as a cabal of Satanist pedophiles and cannibals
Chansley shot to worldwide infamy when he stormed the Capitol sporting face-paint, a fur hat and holding a Star-Spangled spear
Nearly 600 people have been arrested over the attack on the Capitol where Congress was meeting to certify Joe Biden’s November victory over Trump. Earlier Trump had given a fiery speech falsely claiming his defeat was the result of fraud.
Watkins argued on Friday that not everyone who participated in the mob should be painted with the ‘broad brush’ of being labeled an insurrectionist.
‘They are our countrymen, they are our relatives, they are the guy down the street,’ he said. ‘But for January 6, you would have had a beer with them.’
While the charge carries both a maximum 20-year prison term and a fine of up to $250,000, prosecutor Kimberly Paschall indicated the maximum sentence the government was likely to request would be much shorter.
In the months before Friday’s hearing, Senior U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth rejected multiple requests from Chansley for possible pre-trial release.
Attached as an exhibit to a defense motion is an essay that Chansley wrote in high school, declaring his career choice was to be ‘a Christ, a Buddha, or a Muhammad’
On Friday, Watkins asked the judge to allow Chansley to be released from prison pending a sentencing hearing, scheduled for November 17. The judge said he would consider this request.
In the meantime, Chansley remains in federal custody in Alexandria, Virginia.
A colorful and outspoken attorney, Watkins previously released a video that he says shows his client preventing a rioter from stealing a muffin from the U.S. Capitol on January 6, as well as a bizarre high school essay in which he describes his goals as a spiritual ‘master’.
Watkins’ defense motion contains a link to a YouTube video titled ‘Jake Stops Muffin Stealing,’ which appears to show Chansley clad in his distinctive fur-and-horns headgear yelling ‘Hey, hey hey!’ at a rioter entering a break room in the Capitol.
The court documents describe the video as showing Chansley ‘thwarting a crime (theft) by yelling at another person in the Capitol who was attempting to steal a ‘muffin’ from a breakroom in the Capitol.’