‘QAnon Shaman’ Pleads Guilty to Obstructing Congress at Riot
(Bloomberg) -- Jacob Chansley, the Donald Trump supporter who wore a coyote-skin headdress into the Senate chamber and called himself the “QAnon Shaman,” pleaded guilty Friday to obstruction of an official proceeding in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Images of Chansley at the Senate dais and elsewhere around the Capitol were among the most widely circulated from the insurrection. In a hearing in federal court in Washington, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth accepted Chansley’s plea and set a sentencing hearing for Nov. 17.
Lamberth also took under advisement a request by Chansley, who’s been in custody since his arrest Jan. 9, that he be released prior to sentencing for reasons related to his mental health. Albert Watkins, Chansley’s lawyer, said in an interview that the court had recognized Chansley’s “mental health vulnerabilities and the fact that he has been, in effect, in solitary confinement due to Covid for eight months.”
At the hearing, Watkins discussed details from an evaluation of Chansley by Federal Bureau of Prisons psychologists, which he said had found his client “susceptible to throwing him into the abyss” if subjected to further stress. The report, the lawyer said, found that “with proper help and not being in solitary confinement, the defendant was competent.”
Chansley, who in late January pleaded not guilty to several other charges stemming from the riot, won’t be prosecuted for those counts, Watkins said at a press conference. Chansley faces up to 20 years in prison. Taking into consideration his level of offense and his criminal history, the plea agreement’s guidelines estimate a sentencing range of 41 to 51 months, along with a fine ranging from $15,000 to $150,000.
Chansley, an avid supporter of Trump, had hoped the former president would pardon him before leaving office and was disappointed when that didn’t happen, Watkins said.
“He wanted to give the president something honorable to do,” Watkins said. “Instead, the president left for Mar-a-Lago. He pardoned Lil Wayne, but not Jacob, and not others like Jacob.”
Chansley retains an “affinity for Trump on a whole lot of levels,” Watkins said. “Trump was very much like his first love. There will always be a soft spot in his heart for Trump,” though Chansley is “not interested in politics anymore,” the lawyer said.
Watkins said he expected the judge’s decision on Chansley’s request for pre-sentencing release would be “prompt.”
“It would surprise me if we did not receive a ruling today,” Watkins said. “But it may be after the weekend.”
The case is U.S. v. Chansley, 21-cr-00003, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
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