A judge denied the pre-trial release of self-described “QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley, calling his recent “60 Minutes Plus” interview — in which he alleged Capitol Police officers waved him into the building on Jan. 6 — an elaborate “publicity stunt” orchestrated to benefit a fame-hungry defense counsel.
Chansley — who garnered widespread recognition after storming the Capitol shirtless, wearing face paint, a bearskin and horned headdress — will remain in jail, Senior Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled in a scathing 32-page opinion handed down by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday.
Lamberth, appointed by Republican former President Ronald Reagan, lambasted Chansley over his jailhouse interview with “60 Minutes Plus” correspondent Laurie Segall, arguing that such teleconference privileges should have been used privately between the defendant and his counsel.
“Such media appearances are undoubtedly conducive to defense counsel’s fame,” Lamberth wrote. “But they are not at all conducive to an argument that the only way defense counsel could privately communicate with his client is if defendant were temporarily released.”
“Given defense 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.”
Lamberth also ruled that the “six-foot pole with a metal spearhead fixed to the top is” that Chansley pounded into the floor of the Senate chamber is “undoubtedly, a dangerous weapon,” rejecting defense attorney Albert Watkins’s argument that the object was a flagpole with an ornament on its tip.
“Like a knife, it is inherently dangerous. Both objects have a sharpened point designed to inflict harm by piercing or puncturing,” Lamberth wrote. “Moreover, a spear can inflict those puncturing and stabbing wounds at a distance, making it even more effective as an offensive weapon than a knife.”
Authorities have said Chansley was allegedly among the first people to force their way into the Capitol building on Jan. 6, disobeyed orders to leave, refused an officer’s request to use Chansley’s bullhorn to tell rioters to leave the Senate chamber, called Pence a traitor and wrote a note to the then-vice president saying, “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”
Lamberth also rejected the defense’s argument that the note was merely a written prayer.
“Reading that note in the context of defendant’s earlier promotion of the execution of ‘traitors’ invalidates the notion that defendant breached the Capitol merely to leave peaceful, political commentary on the Senate dais,” the judge wrote.
“Moreover, the fact that defendant attributes his actions on January 6th to President Trump does little to persuade the Court that defendant will not act in the same or similar ways again,” Lamberth continued. “In fact, in his interview with 60 Minutes+, defendant stated that he does not regret his loyalty to former President Trump.”
Lamberth also denied Chansley’s release over remarks made by his mother, Martha Chansley, who claimed in a separate interview that her son was “escorted into the Senate” on Jan. 6. Chansley’s connection to the QAnon conspiracy movement also makes him a flight risk, the judge said.
“At the detention hearing before Magistrate Judge Fine, the government proffered evidence indicating that defendant is a leader and mascot of ‘QAnon,’ a group that preaches conspiracy theories and has become widely publicized in recent months,” the opinon stated, making a reference to Chansley’s prior detention hearing in Arizona before his transfer to Washington, D.C. “Given his prominent position in this group, the government argued, defendant is able to ‘quickly raise large sums of money for travel through non-traditional sources.'”
Chansley, who calls himself the “QAnon Shaman” and has long been a fixture at Trump rallies, unsuccessfully sought a pardon from former President Donald Trump. He issued an apology in February, saying he was wrong for entering the Capitol building on Jan. 6.
He has pleaded not guilty to two felony and four misdemeanor charges. Chansley also made headlines after a judge approved a request that he be given organic food in jail to honor his religious beliefs. He is being held in Washington, D.C., after he was moved from an Arizona jail following his initial arrest.