- The lawyer for “QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley wants to use Trump’s January 6 speech for his defense.
- He’s blamed Trump for misleading his client into thinking it was OK to storm the Capitol building.
- It’s the “public authority defense,” where defendants say officials told them to break the law.
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The lawyer for Jacob Chansley, the “QAnon Shaman” who stormed the Capitol building at the vanguard of the January 6 insurrection, wants to use Donald Trump’s words as part of his legal defense.
In a court filing Saturday, the attorney, Albert Watkins, included “Transcripts generated of words spoken by Former President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021” in the list of material he intends to examine as part of the discovery process for the case.
Moments before the riot at the Capitol, Trump spoke at a “Stop the Steal” rally a short walk away, where he disparaged then-Vice President Mike Pence and Congress for doing their job to certify then-President-elect Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election, and told his followers to “fight like hell.”
Trump was impeached for inciting the January 6 insurrection, and Watkins included the impeachment materials among the items he wants to examine as well.
Watkins also listed “Any and all Statements procured by law enforcement from Former President Donald Trump” and “Any and all meme regarding the Executive Office of the United States President” among the material he wants to examine.
The ‘public authority defense’
Chansley, who also goes by the name Jake Angeli, was one of the most visible members of the riot, wearing large horns, face paint, and animal pelts as he stormed the Capitol. He was arrested and in January on several charges after calling up an FBI field office in Arizona and telling an agent about what he did.
His case remains one of the highest-profile out of the more than 270 to come out of the Capitol riot, as his lawyer has warred with jail services to ensure he can keep his all-organic diet and has tried to get his client out of jail ahead of a criminal trial.
Prior to the insurrection, Chansley was a prominent member of the QAnon movement, a group of conspiracy theorists who believe Trump wages a secret war against a “deep state” cabal of Satanic pedophiles.
Watkins has laid the blame squarely at Trump on previous occasions, arguing Chansley was “duped by the president” and acted upon “months of lies and misrepresentations and horrific innuendo and hyperbolic speech by our president designed to inflame, enrage, motivate.”
Several participants in the riot have blamed Trump for misleading them and making them think it would be OK to storm the Capitol and disrupt Congress.
It’s a version of the “public authority defense,” where criminal defendants say that they were following the instructions of a government official when breaking the law, typically used when someone participates in a drug sting operation.
Criminal law experts previously told Insider the defense is unlikely to carry much weight in a courtroom, but it may be the only argument insurrectionists have.
“It’s really your only defense in the case. I mean, when you’re posting on Facebook, live streaming, you’re entering the Capitol building, you can’t say you didn’t intend to commit a crime, intend to enter the building, you can’t say ‘it wasn’t me, I didn’t intend to do this,'” Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor, told Insider.