The lawyer representing the QAnon Shaman was given an opportunity to go on national television and apologise for calling Capitol riot defendants "f****** retarded" and suggesting they have brain damage.
When asked if he was sorry for using the language deemed offensive by some, his response was very clear.
Albert Watkins, the attorney representing Jacob Chansley – aka the QAnon Shaman – spoke with Talking Points Memo in an interview on Tuesday.
Mr Watkins reaffirmed his position that his client would not have participated in the Capitol riot without the inciting rhetoric of former President Donald Trump in the weeks before and after the 2020 election.
On top of comparing Mr Trump's rhetoric to Nazi propaganda, Mr Watkins also said that a significant portion of the individuals charged with participating in the Capitol riot – including his own client – had mental health issues. The way he made his argument, perhaps more so than its content, captured the public's attention.
“A lot of these defendants — and I’m going to use this colloquial term, perhaps disrespectfully — but they’re all f****** short-bus people,” Mr Watkins said. “These are people with brain damage, they’re f****** retarded, they’re on the goddamn spectrum.
“F***, they were subjected to four-plus years of goddamn propaganda the likes of which the world has not seen since f****** Hitler.”
He then went on to say that they were "our brothers, our sisters, our neighbours, our coworkers — they’re part of our country," and that they "aren't bad people, they don’t have prior criminal history."
During a CNN interview with presenter John Berman, Mr Watkins was informed that the word "retarded" – particularly in the context that he used the word – was considered by many to be hateful.
"Counselor, the Special Olympics says the R-word is a form of hate speech and that the word has become an insult used all too commonly in everyday language,” Mr Berman said. "Would you like to apologise this morning?"
"No," Watkins said.
He then explained that his use of vulgar language allowed him to obtain the kind of attention he was unable to get for his client by acting professionally.
“For five months, I acted professionally, I talked to the people that needed to know, I made sure that the Department of Justice had the opportunity firsthand to meet with my client ... to have them understand and appreciate the condition, the special needs of my client,” he said. “I let them talk to my client while he is confined, not once, not twice, but multiple times, and I got nowhere. All I had to do was get vulgar, get vulgar in a short soundbite-driven quote that permitted this very issue to come to the fore."
Mr Watkins repeated his claim in an email sent to The Hill, in which he claimed that "one charged, insensitive, and vulgar statement was all that was required to garner the needed attention to this important aspect of the January 6 defendants."
Mr Chansley is charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies