The attorney for the Jan. 6 protester known as “QAnon Shaman” gave an expletive-laden interview to a left-leaning website in which he described his client and others who entered the Capitol Building that day “retarded” and “short-bus people.”
In an interview with Talking Points Memo published on Tuesday, attorney Albert Watkins appeared to suggest that his client, whose real name is Jacob Chansley, 33, was suffering from a mental disorder and had been propagandized by former President Donald Trump during his four-year term, which he then said would play a role in the defense.
“A lot of these defendants – and I’m going to use this colloquial term, perhaps disrespectfully – but they’re all f**king short-bus people,” Watkins told TPM. “These are people with brain damage, they’re f***ing retarded, they’re on the godd**n spectrum.”
However, he added: “But they’re our brothers, our sisters, our neighbors, our coworkers – they’re part of our country. These aren’t bad people, they don’t have prior criminal history.”
He then appeared to compare the former president to Nazi leader Adolph Hitler, a common, but inappropriate, refrain from the left.
“F**k, they were subjected to four-plus years of godd**n propaganda the likes of which the world has not seen since f**ing Hitler,” Watkins told the outlet, going on to say that his client is afflicted with Asperger’s syndrome, an autism-like condition “characterized by a greater or lesser degree of impairment in language and communication skills, as well as repetitive or restrictive patterns of thought and behavior,” according to the National Institutes of Health.
Earlier, during a pretrial hearing in an unsuccessful attempt to get his client released from jail, Watkins argued that Chansley was simply following Trump’s instructions, telling the court that he had gone to the Capitol “like Forrest Gump.”
“We’re not dealing with a man of violence. They genuinely believed in the truth of what was being asserted by the highest hired hand in the land, the president,” he argued, adding that Chansley said Capitol Police allowed him and others into the building. The defendant later told that same story to CBS News’ “60 Minutes” program.
But U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, currently senior judge for the District of Columbia and a Reagan appointee, rejected the argument after prosecutors submitted footage to the court showing Chansley standing on some scaffolding as rioters fought with police. Additional video shows Chansley walking through a door into the Capitol after rioters broke out some windows.
“The government’s video shows that defendant blatantly lied during his interview with 60 Minutes+ when he said that police officers waved him into the building,” Lamberth said. “Further, this video confirms that defendant did not, as defense counsel claims, enter the building’ contemporaneously with the exiting by Capitol Police.’ […] Nor did he enter, as defense counsel represents, in the ‘third wave’ of the breach. To the contrary, he quite literally spearheaded it.”
But video that has surfaced in recent days obtained by Chansley’s defense and published by American Greatness clearly shows an interaction with Capitol Police as described by the defendant. Officer Keith Robishaw is allegedly seen in the video telling Chansley and others, “We’re not against… you need to show us… no attacking, no assault, remain calm.”
Another suspect, William Watson, who was reportedly free on a drug trafficking bond and who has also since been arrested on charges stemming from the riot, is seen calling on the protesters to behave peacefully. “This has to be peaceful,” Chansley also yelled to demonstrators around him and Watson. “We have the right to peacefully assemble.”
Prosecutors, however, allege something else.
“Robishaw and other officers calmed the protestors somewhat and directed them to leave the area from the same way they had entered. Chansley approached Officer Robishaw and screamed, among other things, that this was their house, and that they were there to take the Capitol, and to get Congressional leaders,” says the complaint, filed Jan. 8.
In an interview with Newsmax TV’s Greg Kelly, Watson said that he does not plan to use Trump as part of his client’s defense. He went on to chastise the federal government for keeping his client and hundreds of others in jail, in solitary confinement, for what amounts to minor charges. He then added that Chansley remains loyal to the former president.
“But whether he’s pro-Trump or anti-Trump, we’re talking about America with a gulag, with people being held in solitary confinement because they didn’t think what other people told them to think,” he said.
After his appearance, the Newsmax TV host brought on American Greatness senior contributor Julie Kelly, who immediately criticized Watson’s comments to TPM.
“He has in a recent interview compared the last four years to Hitler-ish propaganda,” she said. “He also said some very unkind things about defendants to Jan. 6 that I don’t think are helpful or kind or necessary.”
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