(CNN) — The “QAnon shaman” Jacob Chansley, due in federal court Friday for a detention hearing, should be pardoned because he was “answering the call of our president” when he entered the Capitol building last week, his lawyer said.
In a CNN interview Thursday, attorney Al Watkins made the argument that his client was following “direct orders.”
Watkins is known as the attorney for Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who brandished weapons at protesters who were walking past their house last summer.
Chansley, also known as Jake Angell, was indicted by a federal grand jury on six counts, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. The Arizona man was among the most high-profile rioters on January 6, bare-chested and wearing face paint and a horned headdress.
In a memo seeking to keep Chansley in custody, federal prosecutors argue that he and other rioters intended “to capture and assassinate elected officials.”
Prosecutors describe those who took over the Capitol as “insurrectionists” and offer new details about Chansley’s role in the violent siege. At the dais where Vice President Mike Pence had stood that morning, Chansley left a note saying, “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”
Chansley later told the FBI he did not mean the note as a threat but said the vice president was a “child-trafficking traitor” and went on a long diatribe about Pence, Biden and other politicians as traitors.
Watkins told CNN’s Chris Cuomo: “He loved Trump, every word. He listened to him. He felt like he was answering the call of our president.”
He contended Chansley was in the Capitol “at the invitation of our president, who was going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue with them.”
After urging his listeners to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell,” Trump retreated to the White House.
Watkins said the president “has an obligation” to pardon those arrested for invading the Capitol.
Prosecutors accuse Chansley of being a flight risk who can quickly raise money through non-traditional means as “one of the leaders and mascots of QAnon, a group commonly referred to as a cult (which preaches debunked and fictitious anti-government conspiracy theory).”
They also said Chansley suffers from mental illness and is a regular drug user, according to prosecutors’ detention memo.
Before he was arrested, Chansley told the FBI he wanted to return to Washington to protest at Joe Biden’s inauguration.
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