Jacob Anthony Chansley, perhaps best known by the moniker “QAnon Shaman” after storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6, pleaded guilty on Friday to a federal charge of felony obstruction of an official proceeding.
Chansley, 34, emerged as one of the most recognizable participants from the Capitol breach mainly due to his eccentric costume, which included red, white and blue face paint and a fur headdress with Viking horns. He also carried an American flag attached to a 6-foot wooden pole, topped with a spearhead.
The Department of Justice had previously identified him as “one of the leaders and mascots of QAnon,” which prosecutors described as a group that “preaches debunked and fictitious anti-government conspiracy theories” that a “deep state” was out to take down the Donald Trump administration.
According to The New York Times, “His plea hearing in Federal District Court in Washington on Friday departed from the circuslike atmosphere that has surrounded the case from the start.” The outlet reported, “He did not speak other than to answer yes-or-no procedural questions.”
Chansley accepted a plea deal that reportedly recommends he spend 41 to 51 months in prison, minus time served for the eight months he has been behind bars. He also agreed to pay $2,000 in restitution for damage to the Capitol. Sentencing is set for November 17.
He was initially charged with civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, disorderly conduct in a restricted building, and demonstrating in a Capitol building.
Albert Watkins, Chansley’s attorney, had said in January that Trump was partly responsible for inciting supporters to attack the Capitol.
The Times reported, Watkins “said that Mr. Chansley had repudiated the QAnon cult and would like to be known merely as a shaman, not the QAnon shaman,” and:
At a news conference after the hearing, Mr. Watkins told reporters that Mr. Chansley had been under pressure from his family not to plead guilty. His family, Mr. Watkins said, believed that Mr. Trump was going to be reinstated as president and could issue Mr. Chansley a pardon — a baseless theory of the sort once promoted by QAnon that continues to circulate among some Trump supporters.
“It took a lot of courage for a young man who was raised by his mother to say, ‘No,’” Mr. Watkins said.
With Mr. Chansley’s plea, 51 of the roughly 600 people who have been charged in connection with the riot have entered guilty pleas, most for misdemeanor offenses like disorderly conduct. At least another 11 defendants are scheduled to plead guilty by the end of October.
Chansley, also known as Jake Angeli, was taken into custody on January 9 in his home state of Arizona. Federal prosecutors had cited “Chansley’s own words and actions at the Capitol” as proof of a plot “to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States Government.” They said he “acted on conspiracy theories” and referenced a “threatening” note he reportedly left on the Senate Chamber dais, where then-Vice President Mike Pence had been presiding just minutes before.
“It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming,” the note read. Chansley said it was not intended to be a threat.
The Washington Post reported, however, that Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Allison later asked that the line in the court document alleging rioters sought “to capture and assassinate elected officials” be stricken from the record. Allison said at the time that it “may very well be appropriate at a trial” but could “mislead the court by discussing the strength of any specific evidence” related to Chansley’s intentions.
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