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‘QAnon Shaman’ gets new lawyers a week after being sentenced

Jacob Chansley
FILE – In this Jan. 6, 2021 file photo, supporters of President Donald Trump, including Jacob Chansley, right with fur hat, are confronted by U.S. Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber inside the Capitol in Washington. Many of those who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 cited falsehoods about the election, and now some of them are hoping their gullibility helps them in court. Albert Watkins, the St. Louis attorney representing Chansley, the so-called QAnon shaman, likened the process to brainwashing, or falling into the clutches of a cult. Repeated exposure to falsehood and incendiary rhetoric, Watkins said, ultimately overwhelmed his client’s ability to discern reality. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File) Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

‘QAnon Shaman’ gets new lawyers a week after being sentenced

November 22, 05:45 PM November 22, 05:45 PM

Jacob Chansley, the Jan. 6 protester best known as the “QAnon Shaman,” retained new defense lawyers on Monday less than a week after he was sentenced to 41 months behind bars, considering a direct appeal of his conviction and sentence or claims of “ineffective assistance of counsel.”

Chansley, who pleaded guilty in September to a single count of obstruction of an official proceeding after being hit with two felony and four misdemeanor charges for his nonviolent leadership role on Jan. 6, will now be represented by attorneys John Pierce and William Shipley.

Chansley, perhaps the most visible participant in the Capitol riot due to the headdress and paint he wore and the spearlike flagpole he carried, had previously been represented by Albert Watkins, who was notable for his obscenity-laden rants about former President Donald Trump while defending his client.


“Mr. Chansley is no longer represented, for any purpose, by attorney Albert Watkins. Mr. Chansley will be pursuing all remedies available to him under the Constitution and federal statutory law with respect to the outcome of the criminal prosecution of him by the United States Department of Justice,” the National Constitutional Law Union said in a statement provided to the Washington Examiner by Chansley’s new lawyer. “This includes a possible direct appeal of his conviction and sentence to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, as well as claims of ‘Ineffective Assistance of Counsel’ in the appropriate venue.”

The organization contended that “funds raised by the NCLU ensure that persons such as Mr. Chansley — in addition to many others still facing charges in connection with the protests on January 6 — can obtain legal representation that is committed to zealously defending their interests against the predations of governmental actors.”

Chansley’s 41-month sentence is the longest for any Capitol riot defendant who has pleaded guilty, though it will give him credit for the time he has already served since being arrested in January. The QAnon Shaman got the same sentence as Scott Fairlamb, whom prosecutors said shoved a Metropolitan Police Department officer and punched him in his face shield on the western side of the Capitol complex.

Watkins gave an odd press conference outside the courthouse following Chansley’s sentencing last week.

“If you’re asking my opinion, my opinion is meaningless. I would say that I would probably be far more effective over a beer with former President Trump, even if he didn’t have a beer, because I understand he doesn’t drink beer,” the former Chansley lawyer said in response to one question. “But I’d have a beer, and I’d tell him, ‘You know what? You’ve got a few f***ing things to do clearing this f***ing mess up, taking care of a lot of the jackasses that you f***ed up because of January 6th. Now, in the meantime, I might talk to him about some other things that I’d agree with him on. But my opinion doesn’t matter s***.”

Last week, when arguing for a hefty prison sentence, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Paschall described Chansley as a primary instigator of the riot despite the fact that he himself did not assault anyone, though she contended that his exhortations throughout the Capitol constituted violence.

The Justice Department says that more than 675 individuals have been arrested for crimes related to the Capitol riot, including over 210 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. Chansley was never accused of assault.

“What you did here was horrific, as you now concede,” U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth said last week when handing down Chansley’s sentence. “It is the type of conduct that is so serious that I cannot justify downward departure.”

The Reagan appointee asked Watkins, “He made himself the image of the riot, didn’t he?” The now-former Chansley lawyer agreed he had.

“I was wrong for entering the Capitol. I have no excuse. No excuse whatsoever. The behavior is indefensible,” Chansley said during the sentencing hearing, adding “I hope that you see my heart and my desire to live the life of Christ or Gandhi … I make this holy vow and this sacred oath, I will never re-offend again.”

DOJ said that the U.S. Sentencing Commission guidelines provided a recommended range of between 41 and 51 months behind bars.

The sentencing memo from Watkins unsuccessfully asked for the court to “impose a sentence significantly below the range of sentencing recommended under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.”


“His Shamanic chants were further indicia of mental health vulnerabilities,” Watkins told the court, adding “He was not a planner. He was not violent. He was not destructive. He was not a thief.”

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