The attorney who previously represented Mark and Patricia McCloskey—the couple who were charged with felonies after pointing guns at protesters from their lawn inside a gated St. Louis community—says his new client, Jacob Anthony Chansley, stormed the U.S. Capitol last week at the behest President Donald Trump and deserves to be pardoned. Chansley, also known as Jake Angeli, is also and perhaps better known as the “QAnon Shaman.”
St. Louis-based lawyer Al Watkins—who describes himself as “beyond description” in his attorney bio page—appeared on CNN Thursday evening to essentially argue that his client believed he was following the direct orders of the president when he joined other Trump supporters in sieging the Capitol.
Chansley—who was infamously photographed wearing a horned bearskin headdress, tan pants, and red, white and blue face paint, but no shirt—was indicted by a federal grand jury earlier this week on six counts, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
But according to Watkins, the “driving force” behind Chansley’s actions were Trump’s claims about widespread election fraud and directives to be at the Capitol. Watkins said his client “felt like he was answering the call our president.”
“He invited his faithful, those who had been longstanding supporters of him and his cause, those who felt for the first time in their lives that their political voices were being heard,” Watkins argued. “He’s the president. He can go wherever he wants with those that he invites.”
Watkins also claimed that Chansley didn’t participate in any of the violence or destruction, claiming that Capitol Police “held the door open” for his client to walk into the Capitol Building.
“My client wasn’t violent. He didn’t cross over any police lines. He didn’t assault anyone. He was there at the invitation of our president, who was going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue with them,” Watkins said.
“Trump needs to stand up and own these people. He owes them – he has an obligation to them. He has an obligation to the nation,” Watkins said.
“And do what?” Cuomo asked.
“Give a pardon, give a pardon,” Watkins replied.
Federal prosecutors, on the other hand, painted a very different picture of Chansley and his intentions in a detention memo filed Thursday in D.C. District Court.
“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. Chansley left a note on the Senate Chamber dais, where Vice President Mike Pence had been presiding over the session just minutes before, warning ‘it’s only a matter of time, justice is coming,’” the memo stated. “Although he stated his note was not a threat, the Government strongly disagrees. Chansley acted on conspiracy theories he has repeatedly espoused in becoming one of the highest-profile members of a group that attacked a Congressional proceeding, and nothing suggests he has learned from that experience so as to avoid it if on pre-trial release.”
Prosecutors also said that Chansley admitted that “the insurrection is still in progress and he intends to continue participating.”
Law&Crime reached out to Watkins independently. He has not responded to our inquiries about this case.
[image via YouTube screengrab]
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