A lawyer for self-described "QAnon Shaman" Jacob Chansley, who was charged after entering the Capitol on Jan. 6, said the world has not seen "propaganda" like it has in the past four-plus years since Adolf Hitler.
Attorney Albert Watkins made the comment to Talking Points Memo (TPM) while discussing his client’s case. Chansley was 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.
Watkins told TPM that Chansley has Asperger’s syndrome, arguing that his client's mental state and the influence of former President TrumpDonald TrumpRobert Gates says 'extreme polarization' is the greatest threat to US democracy Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' MORE’s “propaganda” efforts would play a role in his case.
“A lot of these defendants — and I’m going to use this colloquial term, perhaps disrespectfully — but they’re all f---ing short-bus people. ... These are people with brain damage, they’re f---ing retarded, they’re on the goddamn spectrum,” Watkins told the outlet.
“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. F---, they were subjected to four-plus years of goddamn propaganda the likes of which the world has not seen since f------ Hitler,” he added.
The lawyer defended his comments in an email to The Hill, arguing that there was a "reason and purpose" behind his "less than politically correct description" of the people who participated in what he called a "visit" to the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Watkins said his description fit "many" people who took part in the day's events.
"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," Watkins wrote.
He said his pleas for "compassion and understanding" for the people involved in the events on Jan. 6 who have mental health issues and disabilities "have to date fallen on deaf ears."
Chansley, one of the most recognizable supporters of Trump who entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, has attempted to place some onus on the former president for energizing and persuading his supporters to enter the Capitol in an attempt to disrupt Congress's Electoral College certification.
In court documents filed in February, Watkins wrote that Chansley was consistent “in his assertion that but for the actions and the words of the President, he would not have appeared in Washington, DC to support the President and, but for the specific words of the then-President during his January 6, 2021 speech, the Defendant would not have walked down Pennsylvania Avenue and would not have gone into the U.S. Capitol Building.”
Watkins doubled down on the argument, telling TPM that there will “necessarily be a legal compulsion” to discuss Trump’s purported involvement in the case.
“Legally, these are unprecedented cases… And as a result, while the judge may not be compelled to emotionally embrace, as a matter of opinion, the effect or the impact of the words and actions of the former President as being a cause, there is going to necessarily be a legal compulsion to address that reality as part of an evaluation of culpability,” Watkins said.
A federal judge in March, however, argued that Chansley’s claim holding Trump accountable for his alleged illegal entry into the Capitol illustrated that he had no remorse for his actions. Chansley was ordered to stay in jail ahead of his trial.
Chansley has been one of the most recognizable figures in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. He was captured in a number of photographs and videos shirtless wearing a hat with horns on Capitol grounds.
According to Insider, 482 people have been charged in connection with the Capitol riot thus far.