The federal judge overseeing “QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley’s case has had it with his media redemption tour.
Chansley, who famously stormed the Capitol on January 6 in distinctive face paint and fur headdress, will stay in jail pending trial after Judge Royce Lamberth wrote a 32-page opinion excoriating both the accused rioter and his lawyer for their legal arguments and recent public appearances.
In the memorandum issued late Monday, Lamberth rejected Chansley’s request for pre-trial release, writing that his counsel had made “meritless” arguments and mocked the idea that Chansley was just a peaceful protester who was victimized during the riots that left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer. He wrote that if Chansley were released before his trial, he would “pose a danger to the public.”
“Not only do the circumstances of the crimes indicate that defendant poses a risk to public safety, but defendant's actions also show that he will not comply with Court-ordered conditions of his release,” Lamberth wrote.
“The statements defendant has made to the public from jail show that defendant does not fully appreciate the severity of the allegations against him,” Lamberth, a Reagan appointee, wrote in his opinion. “To the contrary, he believes that he—not the American people or members of Congress — was the victim on January 6th.”
When reached for comment via email, defense attorney Albert Watkins said simply: “The Court’s Order is well written and reasoned.”
The evidence against Chansley, also known as Jake Angeli, includes viral video footage of him wearing face paint and a Viking hat as he took control of the Senate dais, after rioters breached the chamber on January 6. Prosecutors also say Chansley left a threatening note for Vice President Mike Pence that said “IT’S ONLY MATTER OF TIME JUSTICE IS COMING!”
Chansley argued, incredibly, that the spear he was carrying was actually a flagpole with a “spear finial,” and that it wasn’t deadly because similar poles are used around the country. If the government was actually concerned about the poles being used as weapons, Chansley said "they would not employ [them] across the country in Federal Government Buildings."
Lamberth’s contempt for this argument was palpable.
“By defendant’s logic, knives would not be considered dangerous weapons due to their availability in government building cafeterias,” Lamberth wrote. “The Court declines to adopt defendant’s ‘readily-available-in-government-buildings’ standard for determining whether an object is a ‘dangerous weapon’.”
Chansley’s lawyer also argued that the coronavirus pandemic has made it “impossible” to have "meaningful unmonitored protracted periods of consultation" with Chansley. But Chansley made an appearance on CBS News last week, claiming his actions “were not an attack on this country,” and that he’d actually “stopped people from stealing and vandalizing that sacred space, the Senate,” as well as “muffins out of the break room.”
Lamberth cited the interview as evidence that Watkins and Chansley could communicate just fine.
"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 wrote in his opinion.
Chansley was indicted on two felony and four misdemeanor charges, including obstructing an official proceeding and violent entry and disorderly conduct. He has pleaded not guilty.