- The “QAnon Shaman’s” lawyer told Talking Points Memo that many alleged Capitol riot defendants are mentally impaired.
- Albert Watkins delivered a litany of offensive claims about the accused participants’ intelligence levels.
- The attorney told Insider he made the comments in order to highlight the defendants who struggle with “mental issues.”
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The outspoken lawyer for one of the Capitol attack’s alleged participants is claiming his client and his client’s alleged compatriots were especially susceptible to former President Donald Trump’s election lies due to their mental capacity.
Albert Watkins, attorney for Jacob Chansley, also known as the QAnon Shaman, delivered an offensive, expletive-laden diatribe as to why the insurrection participants took part in the deadly Capitol attack in a Talking Points Memo article published Tuesday.
“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,” Watkins told the outlet. “These are people with brain damage, they’re f—ing retarded, they’re on the goddamn spectrum.”
Following the insensitive insults he leveled against the accused participants, Watkins argued those specific traits make many of them deserving of sympathy, suggesting they were subjected to World-War II-levels of propaganda in the years leading up to January 6.
“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,” Watkins told TPM. “F—, they were subjected to four-plus years of goddamn propaganda the likes of which the world has not seen since f—ing Hitler.”
In a comment to Insider, Watkins acknowledged that his statements were “politically incorrect,” but said there was “reason and purpose” behind his decision to make them.
“My long-standing pleas for compassion and understanding of those involved in the events of January 6 with mental health issues and disabilities have to date fallen on deaf ears,” Watkins told Insider.
“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,” he continued. “I respectfully suggest the next few days and weeks will demonstrate the prudence of this calibrated move.”
Watkins also told TPM that his client, Chansley, had Asperger’s syndrome and said his mental state will play a role in his case.
Adorned with horns, a headdress, and face paint, Chansley became one of the most recognizable alleged rioters at the Capitol on January 6. He was photographed several times with his bullhorn and flagpole throughout the building that day. He was arrested three days later in his hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, and charged with two felonies and four misdemeanors, including civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, entering and remaining in a restricted building, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building.
While many of the people charged in the attack have been granted pretrial release, Chansley has remained in federal facilities since his arrest, court records say.
Earlier this year, Watkins, a St. Louis-based attorney, unsuccessfully argued for Chansley to be granted pretrial release because of the self-proclaimed shaman’s religious-based dietary needs. The lawyer also claimed COVID-19 restrictions had made “meaningful, unmonitored” consultation with Chansley impossible.
“Such media appearances are undoubtedly conducive to defense counsel’s fame,” Judge Royce 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.”
Some lawyers, including Watkins, told TPM that stressing Trump’s role in inciting the Capitol riot may be a path to winning lighter sentences for their clients.
More than 480 people have been charged in the Capitol insurrection so far. Five people died during the insurrection, including a Capitol police officer, and a woman shot by Capitol Police. In the weeks following the attack, the head of the Capitol police officers’ union said 140 officers were injured.