Federal prosecutors have said that “QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley’s statements of remorse for his involvement in the January 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol are “no match” for the evidence against him.
Chansley, also known as Jake Angeli, has repeatedly claimed that he was misled by former President Donald Trump prior to taking part in the storming of the Capitol. The ex-Trump supporter became instantly recognizable after viral photos showed him shirtless inside the Capitol while wearing a furry horned hat and patriotic face paint.
Prosecutors said that Chansley’s post-arrest change of heart “cannot be trusted” in court filings responding to a recent motion for his pretrial release, according to a Tuesday report from Law & Crime.
“The Court need look no further than the defendant’s own words during and after the riot to determine that he is a danger to the community,” the prosecutors wrote. “Statements of guilt and remorse after the defendant’s subsequent incarceration are no match for the evidence the government has proffered about the defendant’s actions on January 6, 2021, many of which were caught on national media for the world to see.”
The documents specifically cited an interview conducted by NBC News with Chansley on the day after the Capitol breach. In the interview, Chansley reportedly compared himself to Gandhi and Martin Luther King, while insisting he had done nothing wrong as he began a cross country road trip from Washington, D.C. back to his home state of Arizona.
“The fact that we had a bunch of our traitors in office hunker down, put on their gas masks and retreat into their underground bunker, I consider that a win,” Chansley told the outlet. “What I was doing was civil disobedience… I didn’t do anything wrong… I walked through an open door, dude.”
In addition to Chansley’s statements of remorse, his lawyer Albert Watkins highlighted Chansley’s “peaceful” behavior at the Capitol and lack of a prior criminal record in the motion for pretrial release. Chansley apologized for “having aroused fear in the heart of others” by taking part in the riot along with other “peaceful people” in a public statement on February 8.
The motion also saw Watkins object to the prosecution’s claim that the flagpole Chansley carried inside the Capitol was a “dangerous weapon,” a key element in making at least one of the charges against the defendant a felony instead of a misdemeanor.
Watkins argued in the motion that the flagpole was not a weapon while noting that it was topped with a finial, or decorative ornament, that “dates to the Native Americans, a fact consistent with the Shamanistic faith” of Chansley.
“Despite defense’s argument to the contrary … the defendant was carrying a dangerous weapon when he stormed the U.S. Capitol,” wrote the prosecutors. “The defendant confronted members of Capitol Police with a blade several inches in length atop a pole which matched the defendant in height … The defendant subsequently took that weapon in to the gallery the United States Senate chamber, driving it into the ground while screaming obscenities at the top of his lungs.”
“The argument that such a weapon is actually an honorific to his Shaman faith and to the United States flag, which was crudely zip-tied to the weapon, is a difficult pill to swallow, particularly when the defendant is dishonoring everything that flag represents by attempting to stop the peaceful transfer of power on which our Democracy is built,” they added.
A hearing on whether to release Chansley ahead of his trial is scheduled to take place in Washington on Friday. Chansley is facing multiple felony and misdemeanor charges and could be sentenced to a lengthy stay in prison if found guilty on all counts.
Newsweek reached out to Watkins for comment.