The lawyer of one of the Capitol Hill attackers who caught everyone’s attention with his horned head attire and was nicknamed “QAnon Shaman”, has argued that all Americans and disinformation is to be blamed for the violence on 6 January.
Jacob Chansley, also known as Jake Angeli, was one of the hundreds of supporters of then-President Donald Trump who took part in attacking the US Capitol in January, in which five people, including a police officer, died. He was charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct and is in federal custody currently.
In a court filing on Tuesday quoted by Reuters, his lawyer Albert Watkins said the attack was the direct result of a “propaganda odyssey”.
Mr Watkins wrote that his client has become “inextricably and in perpetuity linked to an event which will become known not as a day of infamy, but as a day on which our nation was compelled to commence bellying up to the bar to acknowledge each of our roles in permitting, fostering, tolerating, endorsing or ignoring without action an ever-increasing barrage of divisiveness, intolerance, untruths, misrepresentations, and mischaracterisations through an unrelenting multi-year propaganda odyssey.”
He has also been saying that his client was swayed by online disinformation and by Mr Trump’s rhetoric. In a May interview to Talking Points Memo, Mr Watkins suggested that Mr Chansley and other accused of Capitol rioters were especially susceptible to being duped by baseless claims about election fraud by Mr Trump, pointing to their mental abilities.
“These aren’t bad people, they don’t have prior criminal history. F**k, they were subjected to four-plus years of goddamn propaganda the likes of which the world has not seen since f*****g Hitler,” he said.
The appeals to consider Mr Trump’s role in encouraging the Capitol attack have also been echoed by the defence of other accused. Mr Watkins argued in Tuesday’s court filing that prosecutors have intentionally ignored evidence that Mr Chansley was not a leader of the 6 January attack.
Mr Watkins also said his client had Asperger’s syndrome. Mr Chansley, who was transferred to a prison in Colorado on 10 June, is supposed to undergo a mental health evaluation to assess his competency to stand trial, according to a June 16 court filing submitted by federal prosecutors.