An attorney for the so-called ‘QAnon Shaman’ charged in the U.S. Capitol riot has compared his client to the fictional character Forrest Gump, as he argues for his release on bail.
Jacob Anthony Chansley, 33, is being held without bail in Washington DC on charges of civil disorder and five other counts in connection with the January 6 storming of the Capitol.
At a pre-trial hearing on Friday, Chansley’s attorney Al Watkins argued that his client had gone to the Capitol at the invitation of Donald Trump, ‘like Forrest Gump.’
In the fictional 1994 film, Gump stumbles unintentionally through history, including accidentally exposing the Watergate scandal after President Richard Nixon invites him to stay at the DC hotel and office complex.
An attorney for the so-called ‘ QAnon Shaman’ Jacob Chansley (right) who is charged in the U.S. Capitol riot has compared his client to the fictional character Forrest Gump
In the fictional 1994 film (above), Gump stumbles unintentionally through history, including accidentally exposing the Watergate scandal after meeting President Richard Nixon
‘We’re not dealing with a man of violence,’ Watkins told U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth at the hearing, according to Fox News. ‘They genuinely believed in the truth of what was being asserted by the highest hired hand in the land, the president.’
Watkins pointed to his client’s hobbies as a painter and potter. He also asserted Chansley was only carrying a decorative ‘spearhead’ during the riot, and not a dangerous weapon.
Watkins argued that Chansley believed police were allowing him and other protesters to enter the Capitol building.
Prosecutors are opposing Chansley’s release before trial, saying there is no reasonable version of events in which Chansley believed it was legal to enter the Capitol as windows were being broken and alarms went off.
Judge Lamberth promised to rule shortly on the bail request, but as of Saturday afternoon he had not issued a ruling, according to the court docket.
At Friday’s hearing, Lamberth scolded Watkins, claiming he violated federal rules to facilitate a jailhouse interview for his client.
‘We’re not dealing with a man of violence,’ attorney Al Watkins said at the hearing, comparing Chansley (left in a court sketch) to Forrest Gump (portrayed by Tom Hanks right)
‘There’s no subterfuge here, at all. … I did not under any circumstances try to conduct subterfuge to this court, certainly, and not to the facility where my client is currently housed,’ Watkins responded . ‘It’s just not my style.’
He did say the jail was told it was an ‘attorney-client interview video,’ and that he did not tell them it was actually for a ’60 Minutes’ interview.
In the interview, which aired on Thursday, Chansley broke his silence to claim that he stormed the Senate floor to ‘sing a song’ and stop people from stealing and vandalizing in the hallowed hall.
The Arizona native – who was pictured in the Capitol on January 6 sporting a horned headdress, face-paint, a Star-Spangled spear and a bullhorn – argued that he actually helped curb the chaos, not exacerbate it.
‘Well, I sang a song. That’s a part of shamanism. It’s about- creating positive vibrations in a sacred chamber,’ he said of his visit to the Senate floor.
‘I also stopped people from stealing and vandalizing that sacred space, the Senate. Okay? I actually stopped somebody from stealing muffins out of the break room.
‘And I also said a prayer in that sacred chamber. Because it was my intention to bring divinity, and to bring God back into the Senate.’
Jacob Anthony Chansley, the so-called ‘QAnon Shaman’ spoke out for the first time since his arrest in the January 6 Capitol riots in an interview with 60 Minutes on Thursday (pictured)
Video included in Chansley’s indictment showed him standing at Vice President Mike Pence’s chair in the Senate and pumping his fists in the air.
When 60 Minutes correspondent Laurie Segall reminded that Chansley was not legally allowed to be in the ‘sacred chamber’, he asserted that he thought it was okay because police welcomed him in.
‘That is the one very serious regret that I have, was believing that when we were waved in by police officers, that it was acceptable,’ he said.
Chansley grew incredulous when Segall described his actions as ‘an attack on this nation’.
‘No, they were not, ma’am,’ he said. ‘My actions were not an attack on this country. That is incorrect. That is inaccurate, entirely.
‘I consider myself a lover of my country,’ he continued. ‘I consider myself a believer in the Constitution. I consider myself a believer in truth and our founding principles. I consider myself a believer in God.’
Chansley also expressed disappointment that Donald Trump didn’t give him a pardon before leaving office, saying that he thought the president ‘had our back’.
He added that he regrets storming the Capitol ‘with every fiber of my being’ but does not regret his loyalty to Trump.
‘Well, I sang a song. That’s a part of shamanism. It’s about creating positive vibrations in a sacred chamber,’ Chansley said in the 60 Minutes interview
Video in Chansley’s indictment showed him standing at Vice President Mike Pence’s chair in the Senate and pumping his fists in the air
Chansley is among more than 300 people who have been charged in connection with the Capitol insurrection that left five people dead and over 130 police officers injured.
He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on two felony and four misdemeanor counts, including violent entry and civil disorder.
Chansley (pictured in his mugshot) faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on two felony and four misdemeanor counts, including violent entry and civil disorder
In a filing on Monday, prosecutors argued that Chansley should not be released because he poses a danger to the community.
The prosecutors cited Chansley’s indictment, which accused him of holding a weapon as he confronted officers inside the Capitol, speaking about ridding the government of traitors and writing a threatening note to Pence which read: ‘It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.’
‘He cannot be trusted now to suddenly change course,’ prosecutors said.
Chansley’s attorney, Albert Watkins, disputed those claims, saying that Chansley’s spear was an ornament, not a weapon, and that the letter he wrote to Pence wasn’t intended to be threatening.
Watkins also said his client is suffering from digestive tract difficulties, even though the jail has complied with his request for organic food.
The defense attorney has sought to cast blame for Chansley’s actions on Trump, claiming that his client was ‘duped’ into participating in the riot.
‘Mr Chansley is not alone. We all are compelled to be introspective about our role in creating and permitting an environment where believing the words of a president [is] criminally actionable,’ Watkins told DailyMail.com last month.
He argued that Trump had drawn Chansley into a web of lies, but said that Trump’s lack of action during the riot and failure to issue pardons had been a wake-up call to his client.
‘My client is understandably compelled to reconcile the words of the former president with the subsequent actions of the former president,’ Watkins said.
‘The reconciliation of a betrayal necessarily requires the bellying up to the bar by the betrayed to acknowledge their role in making themselves ripe for betrayal.’