The Capitol riot suspect known as the “QAnon Shaman” is in plea negotiations after being diagnosed with several mental illnesses while in prison, his attorney told Reuters Thursday.
Jacob Chansley became one of the most visible people from the January 6 attack, when he was pictured inside the chambers of Congress shirtless, wearing a fur headdress with horns, and red, white, and blue face paint. He was arrested in January on six charges, including disorderly conduct and violent entry. He has denied the charges.
Insider’s Tom Porter reported in June that Chansley was ordered to undergo a psychological test while in prison in order to establish if he was mentally competent enough to understand the legal case against him and stand trial.
His lawyer, Albert Watkins, told Reuters that the federal Bureau of Prisons had diagnosed Chansley with transient schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. However, he said the agency did not determine he was mentally incompetent.
Watkins said the Bureau of Prions evaluation also found Chansley’s mental health had declined while he was kept in solitary confinement in a Virginia jail.
Chansley is now seeking a plea deal, in which he could plead guilty to a less serious charge in hopes of receiving a lighter sentence, Reuters reported.
His lawyer also said Chansley has experienced some delusions, such as believing he was related to Jesus and the Buddha, and said he was an “unarmed, harmless, peaceful” person with “a pre-existing mental vulnerability of significance.”
Far-right white nationalist Nick Fuentes was removed from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas on Saturday.
Although organizers removed Fuentes from the event, a range of far-right figures have been seen attending the conference, including members of the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and believers of the QAnon conspiracy theory.
CPAC is an annual gathering of top US conservatives, with former president Donald Trump due to speak on Sunday.
In the video, Fuentes announced his plan to host a rival press conference, which he promised would be his “most unchained speech ever.”
“I’m off Twitter. I have nothing to lose. This is going to be the most racist, most sexist, the most anti-Semitic, the most Holocaust-denying speech in all of Dallas this weekend,” Fuentes said, to enthusiastic cheers from his supporters.
The video shows Fuentes and his supporters walking into CPAC while chanting “America first” and “white boy summer.” Fuentes briefly gained access before being kicked out.
Although the 22-year-old agitator was barred from the event, members from other far-right groups were seen in attendance over the course of the weekend, including Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers militia, and at least two members of the Proud Boys.
The Daily Beast reported that some CPAC attendees were openly boasting about participating in the Capitol insurrection.
“I’m here to instigate freedom like I did on the lawn on January 6 when I climbed the media tower while they shot tear gas at my feet,” Duane Schwingel, an activist who dresses up as a patriotic character called Uncle Jam, said, according to The Daily Beast.
QAnon merchandise was also seen on sale at the event.
Jacob Anthony Chansley, the January 6 Capitol rioter dubbed the ‘Q Shaman’, will take a test in prison aimed at establishing if he is fit to understand the legal case against him, according to court records.
In a filing Saturday, US attorneys said that Chansley would take the test at the Colorado federal prison in Littleton, where he is being detained.
Shirtless and wearing a horned helmet and fur as he walked through the halls of Congress on January 6, Chansley is one of the most recognizable members of the mob of Trump supporters who breached the US Capitol.
He had long been known as an influencer in the QAnon conspiracy theory movement.
Chansley, also known as Jake Angeli, faces six federal charges over his alleged role in the unrest in the Capitol on January 6, including violent entry and disorderly conduct. He denies the charges.
The test, said Lamberth, would establish if Chansley is “presently suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent to the extent that he is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense.”
His lawyer, Albert Watkins, has claimed that his client is autistic, and believed that he was acting on the orders of President Donald Trump when he entered the Capitol that day. He said his client did not engage in violence and that his mental condition had deteriorated in jail, where he was held after his arrest in January.
Watkins had described many of the January 6 rioters as “f—ing short-bus people,” who have “brain damage” and had been manipulated by years of relentless propaganda by Trump in comments to Talking Point memo.
The test will seek to establish if he is mentally competent to answer the charges against him in court. If it’s found that he isn’t he’d likely be spared a jail sentence, and would instead be treated at a prison hospital if found guilty.
In July 2020, JR Majewski made national headlines after transforming his 19,000-square-foot lawn into a massive Trump re-election banner. When the Air Force veteran from Ohio appeared in a television interview with Fox News, he was wearing a QAnon T-shirt.
Several months later, as Congress met to certify President Joe Biden’s election win, Majewski was among the thousands of Trump supporters who attended the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington DC, later admitting to breaching police barricades and walking up to the base of the Capitol building.
Majewski is now trying to return to the Capitol, but this time as a congressman representing the 9th district of Ohio, a seat currently held by Democratic Rep. Marcy Kapur.
Since he was first spotted wearing the “Q” T-shirt, Majewski has made several more references to the conspiracy theory, posting QAnon images and hashtags on his social media channel, and live streaming videos with the well-known QAnon influencer RedPill79.
Majewski is one of many congressional candidates running in the 2022 midterm elections who have given credence to QAnon, which the FBI described as a far-right group with “anti-government, identity-based and fringe political conspiracy theories,” The Washington Post reported.
A Media Matters investigation published earlier this month revealed that 36 candidates in 17 states have either openly endorsed QAnon, made subtle references to, or distanced themselves from the conspiracy theory despite repeatedly displaying their support on social media or in video interviews.
Thirty-three of the candidates are running as Republicans while two are independents and one is still deciding whether to run as a Republican or an independent, the investigation found. The state with the most QAnon-believing candidates is Florida with nine candidates, followed by California which has six candidates, although these numbers are still subject to change.
In this cohort is also Reba Sherill, a health and wellness advocate who in 2020 unsuccessfully ran in Florida’s 21st congressional district – home to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. She is running again as a Republican candidate for the US Senate in the midterms.
As a big Trump fan, Sherrill used to gather with other supporters on a bridge near Mar-A-Lago to wave in homage at the former president’s motorcade whenever he was in town, The Washington Post reported.
She is an ardent QAnon believer and has made the conspiracy theory central to her largely self-funded campaign.
The self-described “Q patriot” focuses her campaign on child trafficking, matching with QAnon’s false belief that Trump is fighting a “deep state” cabal of human traffickers in the United States, Yahoo News reported.
Sherrill has also referred to the more extreme adrenochrome theory – the belief that Democratic elites harvest the drug from children by torturing them and drinking their blood – in a now-deleted post on her website.
The Flordia native told Yahoo News that the “mainstream media tries to paint people who talk about human trafficking and child sex trafficking as being some kind of crazy lunatics.”
“This is not a conspiracy, this is reality,” she insisted. “It’s not some fictitious thing.”
Another congressional candidate who believes in the human trafficking theory is Omar Navarro, a convicted stalker running for California’s 43rd congressional district.
The California native, who last year spent six months in jail after pleading guilty to a stalking charge, told Insider in an interview that he believes in “some things” that “Q” says, including the human trafficking trope.
“I do believe that there’s human trafficking going on right now. I do believe that Hollywood has participated in some of this with pedophilia on and it’s something obviously we can’t ignore,” he said.
Navarro, who has gone viral multiple times on Twitter for his far-right and homophobic views, has previously pushed the debunked Pizzagate theory. He told Insider: “I feel like there are certain things going on. There’s something shady in that pizza shop.”
The Californian also defended using the popular QAnon slogan WWG1WGA (“Where we go one, we go all”) in a tweet posted on October 3, 2020, saying he ended up deleting it because he didn’t want Twitter to ban him.
“I always have to worry about my free speech and what I say on Twitter,” he said.
The fear of being removed from social media platforms is not holding back QAnon fan Jo Rae Perkins, who is running for the Senate in Oregon, where she unsuccessfully ran in 2020.
Perkins, who discovered QAnon messaging boards in 2017 and describes them as a “source of information.” She has also posted a video of herself taking a “digital soldier oath” in front of a WWG1WGA sticker, CNN reported.
Around eight candidates have consistently and blatantly pushed elements of the QAnon conspiracy theory in the past but have, in some way, tried to distance themselves from it. These include Josh Barnett, Bobby Piton, Jon McGreevey, and Billy Prempeh.
Greene pushed these ideas so fervently that she became a “correspondent” for a conspiracy news website between 2017 and 2018, NBC News reported. In one of her posts for the now-defunct “American Truth Seekers” website, the controversial lawmaker called Q a “patriot.”
She also told her social media followers that Q “is worth listening to” in a now-deleted video from 2017.
But while Greene once proudly broadcast some of QAnon’s wildest ideas, she has since tried to publicly distance herself from the conspiracy theory.
In August 2020, Greene said that QAnon no longer represented her current position. “No, I don’t [consider myself a QAnon candidate]. I think that’s been the media’s characterization of me,” she told Fox News.
But after winning the Republican nomination for Colorado’s 3rd District, she told Fox 31 News that she’s “not a follower.” She did not, however, disavow a central tenet of the QAnon ideology – that the “deep state” is actively working against Trump. “I believe there are people working in the administration that at least appear to be actively undermining President Trump,” she said in 2020.
Publicly disavowing QAnon whilst continuing to advocate for some of the conspiracy theory’s nonsensical beliefs is an oft-used “camouflage” tactic by the far-right, Media Matters president Angela Carusone told Insider.
Some candidates might be doing so to appear more palatable to a wider audience and to avoid “political blowback” while maintaining their base of QAnon donors, he said.
“When candidates walk back their QAnon commitment, I think you have to view that with real skepticism,” Carusone advised. “They do things in a careful and concerted way.”
QAnon is a political tool to raise money and attract voters
While some candidates publicly disavow QAnon in a bid to appeal to a more mainstream audience, others subtly signal their support for it as a means to bring conspiracy theorists into the fold, to donate and vote for them.
“Many don’t even mention Q directly,” Jack Bratich, an associate professor of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University, told Insider. “It’s become a kind of background story for adherents, who can signal to each other that they are part of this shadowy movement.”
Insider identified around a dozen candidates who have expressed their support for QAnon in less than explicit ways, via retweets, subtle nods to slogans, and the use of specific hashtags. These include Steve Von Loor, Tricia Flanagan, Sam Peters, and Anthony Sabatini.
Several candidates included the hashtag #WWG1WGA in their tweets. Others included the letter “Q” in response to posts from QAnon-affiliated accounts.
“I’m certain that there are some of these individuals that don’t actually care or believe in it, but they see it as an opportunity,” Carusone said.
“I think there are some candidates who are certainly just being political,” Carusone went on. “They’re crassly seeing a potential political donor base or power base.”
QAnon is ‘on the rise’ in congressional politics
It’s clear that the influence of QAnon in congressional politics is “on the rise,” Carusone said. “And they’re aggressively moving to take over parts of the Republican party, local committees, school boards, local races too.”
Bratich said it shows how deeply QAnon has “settled” into the Republican party. “As a movement, it has expanded to try and take over the party,” he said. “It’s not central to the GOP but it’s no longer a marginal component either.”
QAnon is now a major force in American politics, Carusone agreed. “And, basically, I think we’re kind of screwed.”
Here is a full list of all 36 QAnon supporters who are running for Congress in 2022.
The post said: “Getting subtle messages from U.S. officials saying, in effect: ‘We’re coming for you McAfee! We’re going to kill yourself,'” the tweet reads. “I got a tattoo today just in case. If I suicide myself, I didn’t. I was whackd. Check my right arm.”
At the time of the tweet, McAfee was actively evading US tax authorities. He did not explain what “subtle messages” he meant, or provide any evidence of his extraordinary claim that he was a marked man.
On Thursday, the day after his death, Villalba told Reuters that the death was a surprise.
“At no point had he shown any special worry or clue that could let us think this could have happened,” he said.
Earlier in the legal process, McAfee argued against being sent back to the US on the grounds that it would likely mean spending the rest of his life in prison.
The 2019 tweet had been shared more than 33,000 times as of early Thursday, including by Wikileaks and Michelle Malkin, an anchor of hard-right channel Newsmax, who retweeted the post with the hashtag “#IBELIEVEJOHNMCAFEE.”
McAfee’s Instagram account was deleted after his death, which had recently posted an image of the letter “Q.” It is unclear who runs the account or why it was deleted.
McAfee founded the McAfee antivirus software empire in 1987, which was bought by Intel in 2010. The mogul left the company in 1994 and later moved to Belize, where he became a subject of interest in the case of his neighbor’s murder, for which he was later found legally liable.
Before his death, he was due to be extradited as part of a criminal investigation into his tax affairs. McAfee testified against the move on June 15, saying the charges were politically motivated.
Several top QAnon influencers on Telegram, some of whom have hundreds of thousands of followers on the far-right-favorite messaging platform, shared posts on Wednesday afternoon including the word “suicide” in quotes.
“Word on the street, only time will tell if this report was true or not,” an account with 61,000 subscribers shared on the app. Conspiracies alleging that McAfee had a “dead man’s switch,” or a device that activates when its owner dies, were also being shared online.
McAfee was imprisoned in Spain pending extradition on tax evasion charges before his death was reported on Wednesday.
A 2019 tweet from the antivirus software mogul’s verified Twitter account appeared to be emboldening some of these claims: “If I suicide myself, I didn’t,” the tweet said.
QAnon, a wide-ranging, far-right conspiracy theory based on the false notion that former President Donald Trump had attempted to take down a “deep state” cabal of human traffickers and pedophiles, notably spread a similar theory when disgraced financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide in 2019: “Epstein didn’t kill himself” eventually became a major online meme.
Hours after McAfee’s death, a similar phrase became a popular hashtag on Twitter.
Online discourse over the McAfee Associates software company founder also focused on an Instagram post from McAfee’s verified account on Wednesday afternoon – hours after his death was reported by Reuters – that showed the letter “Q.”
A post shared by John McAfee (@officialjohnmcafee)
It was not immediately clear who had control of McAfee’s Instagram account. Instagram told Insider it was “looking into” the situation.
McAfee was an American software engineer who founded the anti-virus software company McAfee Associates and ran it until he resigned in 1994.
In 2012, Belize police considered him a “person of interest” in the murder of Gregory Viant Faull, a neighbor of his while he lived on the island. McAfee denied he was involved in the death and fled Belize.
McAfee also ran for president in the US as a libertarian in 2016 and 2020.
In March 2021, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York indicted McAfee on charges of fraud and money laundering for running what they said was a fraudulent cryptocurrency scheme. Federal prosecutors Tennessee later charged him with tax evasion.
QAnon leaders weighing in on McAfee’s death comes as no surprise, as the conspiracy theorists frequently repackage news stories to promote their own beliefs. When a rare winter storm hit Texas this year, QAnon influencers claimed that Bill Gates was behind the inclement weather; QAnon hotshots were infuriated Lil Nas X made headlines for grinding with the devil in a music video and selling shoes that reportedly contained a drop of human blood.
QAnon is a baseless far-right conspiracy theory that claims former President Donald Trump is secretly fighting a “deep state” cabal of satanic pedophiles and cannibals.
A post in a 225,000 strong QAnon Telegram chat We The Media read: “JOE BIDEN BITTEN BY A CICADA – COMMS? Just so happens that Cicadas nymphs emerge after a 17-year childhood underground!!! What? CHILD? UNDERGROUND? 17?”
The post draws parallels between the 17 years that Brood X cicadas spend living underground, implying that this timeframe is somehow linked to Q. The number “17” is often used in QAnon circles because Q is the 17th letter of the alphabet. It also references the “underground,” a baseless belief that QAnon supporters hold that there is a hidden network of pedophiles that “Q” – and Trump – will one day expose.
Douglas Jensen, an Iowa man who was indicted on several federal charges related to the January 6 insurrection, is seeking a release from custody ahead of his arraignment hearing, arguing that he “fell victim” to conspiracy theories.
The new request for release was issued ahead of Jensen’s arraignment at a DC federal court on Tuesday. His attorney claimed that Jensen has been “languishing” in a DC jail for six months. He was arrested five months ago.
Prosecutors say that in several viral videos, Jensen can be seen in front of Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, as well as other officers, amid one of the first waves of rioters to break into the Capitol. He’s pictured sporting a T-shirt with a QAnon logo with an eagle in the center, accompanied by the group’s slogan.
In new court documents, Jensen’s attorney Christopher Davis is calling for his client’s release on the basis that Jensen “feels deceived, recognizing that he bought into a pack of lies” by former President Donald Trump. Davis claims that his client was only at the rally to observe and that Trump corrupted him.
According to federal prosecutors, Jensen can be seen charging towards Officer Goodman in several videos. He has been indicted on five charges, including assaulting officers, but in his request for release, Jensen’s attorney claims that Goodman “threatened” Jensen, who was allegedly armed with a pocketknife for “protection.”
Jensen was arrested two days after returning to Des Moines, Iowa, following the insurrection and was transferred to Washington, DC, at a judge’s request.
Jensen is also charged with obstructing an official proceeding, which has a maximum sentence of 20 years.
Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming rebuked Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security advisor, for appearing to endorse a coup in the US similar to the one in Myanmar in February.
“No American should advocate or support the violent overthrow of the United States,” the Republican lawmaker tweeted Monday, referring to comments Flynn made over the weekend at a QAnon conference in Dallas.
Flynn, a keynote speaker at the four-day convention, has peddled conspiracy theories endorsed by the far-right movement, which broadly believes in the existence of a “deep state” cabal of pedophiles.
During a panel on Sunday, an audience member asked Flynn: “I want to know why what happened in Myanmar can’t happen here.”
“No reason, I mean, it should happen here. No reason. That’s right,” Flynn responded, according to footage of the interaction that later circulated on Twitter.
Other prominent attendees at the event, called the For God & Country Patriot Roundup, included pro-Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Lin Wood, former Trump advisor George Papadopoulos, and GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, a Trump ally.
“Let me be VERY CLEAR – There is NO reason whatsoever for any coup in America, and I do not and have not at any time called for any action of that sort,” Flynn wrote on Telegram, a social media platform favored by far-right groups.
Flynn served as Trump’s first national security advisor for 22 days before resigning. He later pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his communications with Russia’s ambassador to the US. Trump ultimately pardoned him last November.
Flynn was thrust into the spotlight in the QAnon universe after he baselessly repeated that Trump won the 2020 presidential election. Followers of the QAnon movement have also praised the coup in Myanmar and shown support for a coup in the US, according to reporting by Media Matters for America.
Cheney has emerged as a fierce opponent of Trump and his allies following the January 6 Capitol riot. She has condemned his false claims about the 2020 race and voted to impeach him. House Republicans booted her from her leadership position last month over her stance.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, spoke at a major QAnon conference on Saturday in Dallas and downplayed the January 6 Capitol riot to a crowd that included major conspiracy theorist influencers.
The congressman condemned his colleagues in the House who are pushing for a bipartisan commission to investigate the Capitol riot and argued that the events of Jan. 6 paled in comparison to both the 9/11 terror and Pearl Harbor attacks, according to reporters and watchdog groups covering the event. Earlier this month, Gohmert joined many of his Republican colleagues in blocking the creation of a Jan. 6 commission.
Gohmert took photos at the event with QAnon supporters, including Zak Paine, the host of a popular QAnon show RedPill78, who has said he stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Gohmert spoke on stage at the Omni Hotel in Dallas in front of a large image of the event’s logo, which featured the QAnon mantra “Where we go one, we go all,” abbreviated to “WWG1WGA.”
The phrase was taken from the 1996 film “White Squall” and is widely used by QAnon adherents to show their support for the far-right conspiracy theory. Gohmert and three other Texas House Republicans voted against a congressional resolution condemning QAnon last fall.
A prominent QAnon influencer, John Sabal, aka “QAnon John,” and his girlfriend, Amy, organized the conference. Sabal detailed his support for QAnon during an October 2020 interview with Insider at a Trump rally in Middletown, PA.
“I want to make [the Conservative Political Action Conference] look like a puppy show,” Sabal told a far-right podcast host last month of his QAnon conference.
The three-day conference featured several prominent QAnon promoters, including Trump’s former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, and ex-Trump attorney Sidney Powell. The chairman of the Texas Republican Party, Allen West, also spoke at the events.
The pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory, which claims that major Democrats and celebrities are operating a global pedophile ring, is closely tied to the Capitol riot. Forty people arrested for entering the Capitol on Jan. 6 are QAnon adherents. Rosanne Boyland, a rioter who died on the steps of the Capitol, was an avid QAnon believer, according to Boyland’s family and friends.
Spokespeople for Gohmert and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.
A reporter at a Texas CBS affiliate said that a member of Gohmert’s staff falsely told the outlet that the congressman did not attend the event.
Gohmert has promoted the false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump, and repeatedly defended the Capitol rioters and others accused of unlawfully entering the Capitol as part of the pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6. Other Republican lawmakers have described the rioters as harmless “tourists” and otherwise defended the attack on Congress.