Prosecutors oppose release of Arizona man arrested in Capitol riot

‘QAnon Shaman’ ruins chances of early release with TV interview

Appearance on ‘60 Minutes’ shows Mr Chansley does not understand severity of actions says judge

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Monday 08 March 2021 21:51
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A federal judge has refused to release the so-called “QAnon Shaman” after an ill-advised appearance on the news show60 Minutes.

Jacob Chansley had applied to be released from detention ahead of his trial for his involvement in the violent insurrection at the US Capitol on 6 January.

However, in his ruling published on Monday, Judge Royce Lamberth cited the TV interview as evidence that Mr Chansley does not understand the severity of his actions.

“Defendant’s perception of his actions on January 6th as peaceful, benign, and well-intentioned shows a detachment from reality,” Mr Lamberth wrote referencing the 60 Minutes segment.

“If the defendant does not understand the severity of the allegations against him, the Court finds no reason to believe he would not commit the same or similar actions again.”

Also under fire from the judge was Mr Chansley’s defence attorney Albert Watkins for “squandering” time with his client by setting up the interview.

“Such media appearances are undoubtedly conducive to defence counsel’s fame,” the judge wrote. “But they are not at all conducive to an argument that the only way defence counsel could privately communicate with his client is if defendant were temporarily released.”

“Given defence counsel’s decision to use what could have been a confidential videoconference on a media publicity stunt, that argument is so frivolous as to insult the Court’s intelligence.”

Mr Watkins was questioned on Friday as to whether the interview had been conducted with the appropriate clearance from the US Marshals Service or prison authorities.

He said that he had made independent arrangements and assumed Mr Chansley would be allowed to be captured on camera from his office.

In the interview, the first since Mr Chansley’s arrest, he said that he does not regret his loyalty to Donald Trump, and claimed that his actions were not an attack on the US.

He argued that the spear he was holding was not a spear, but a flagpole with a spearhead attached. This argument did not impress the judge who said it was still “inherently dangerous”.

Shirtless and wearing face paint and a buffalo-horned headdress, Mr Chansley became the face of the storming of the Capitol building that led to the deaths of five people on the day and two subsequently by suicide.

Mr Chansley claimed his actions were “peaceful, benign, and well-intentioned” according to the judge’s written decision.

In the interview, Mr Chansley said: “I was peaceful. I was civil. I was calm. I said a prayer and I sang a song.”

He also said he prevented other rioters from stealing muffins.

Judge Lamberth wrote that although the defendant had expressed remorse for going inside the Capitol building, he was not changed with simple trespass.

Mr Chansley is also charged with, among other things, civil disorder, obstructing an official proceeding, and disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building.

He has been behind bars since his arrest in his hometown of Phoenix, Arizona on 9 January.

Mr Chansley was moved to a jail in Virginia in February so that he had access to organic food. He claimed that nonorganic food is against his religion.

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