The attorney representing the "QAnon Shaman" Jacob Chansley has continued to lay the blame for his client's participation in the Capitol riot at the feet of Donald Trump, with little success in court.
Albert Watkins, Mr Chansley's attorney, defended his client’s behaviour in an interview with the political news website Talking Points Memo.
The lawyer told TPM that the alleged insurrectionists were particularly susceptible to Mr Trump’s propaganda, which he compared to efforts employed by Nazi Germany ahead of and during World War II.
“These aren’t bad people, they don’t have prior criminal history,” the lawyer said. “F***, they were subjected to four-plus years of goddamn propaganda the likes of which the world has not seen since f****** Hitler.”
Mr Chansley is not Mr Watkins’ first controversial client. The Missouri lawyer also represented the St. Louis gun couple who went viral for an infamous photo of the pair pointing guns at social justice protesters.
Mr Watkins has consistently maintained that if not for Mr Trump’s speech inciting his supporters on 6 January to overturn the election, his client would not have thought to storm the Capitol.
His argument failed to convince US District Judge Royce Lamberth, who has ruled to keep Mr Chansley detained until his trial. Mr Lambert wrote in an 8 March ruling: “Even taking defendant’s claim at face value, it does not persuade the Court that defendant would not pose a danger to others if released.”
Mr Watkins told TPM that even if judges rejected the arguments, they would have to consider the former president's rhetoric in the months before and after the election while evaluating the culpability of individuals charged for participating in the insurrection.
Mr Watkins believes the more than 400 defendants facing charges related to the Capitol insurrection could use the Trump defense to negotiate plea deals, which would save them from being lumped in with individuals tied to the Proud Boys or Oath Keepers who are being targeted for conspiring to violently interrupt Congress.
Mr Watkins said that Mr Chansley has Asperger's syndrome, and argued that other defendants were mentally challenged, which he believes will play a role in how the cases are handled.
“A lot of these defendants — and I’m going to use this colloquial term, perhaps disrespectfully — but they’re all f****** short-bus people,” Mr Watkins told TPM. “These are people with brain damage, they’re f****** retarded, they’re on the goddamn spectrum.”