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'QAnon Shaman' from Capitol riot could 'pose danger to others,' denied release from jail

If Jacob Chansley were released, "he would have the opportunity to again attempt to disrupt the United States government or harm members of Congress," a judge ruled.
Image: Jacob Anthony Chansley on Januray 6, 2021.
Jacob Anthony Chansley, also known as Jake Angeli, of Arizona, pictured in Washington as supporters of President Donald Trump gather at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.Stephanie Keith / Reuters file

Jacob Chansley, better known as the “QAnon Shaman” — who stormed the U.S. Capitol while wearing face paint and a furry horned and feathered hat while baring his tattooed chest — will remain in jail while his case proceeds, a federal judge decided Monday.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that there was no combination of conditions under which he could release Chansley that would ensure his appearance in court and the safety of the community.

Lamberth said in a 32-page decision that if Chansley were released, "he would have the opportunity to again attempt to disrupt the United States government or harm members of Congress."

"Moreover, defendant's release would allow him to plan with others who might be willing to engage in these acts," the decision said. "Given the nature of this risk, the Court finds that ordering defendant to remain on confinement would not sufficiently protect the public."

This past week, Chansley was interviewed by "60 Minutes+," an appearance which Judge Lamberth did not approve of.

Chansley's attorney, Albert Watkins, argued that one reason Chansley should be released was that the difficulties of communicating with a jailed client was impeding work on his defense. Lamberth's opinion called that argument “so frivolous as to insult the Court’s intelligence,” citing the "60 Minutes+" interview as proof that Watkins has no trouble reaching Chansley in jail.

In a statement to NBC News on Tuesday, Watkins conceded: "The Court’s Order was well written and reasoned."

Chansley, who also goes by Jake Angeli, instantly became one of the most recognizable figures in the Jan. 6 riot when he was photographed in the Capitol wearing his shaman costume and carrying a 6-foot spear, which he denies was a weapon.

Lamberth disagreed, saying, "The court finds his blatant disregard for the law on Jan. 6 to be a telling indicator of how defendant would act if released pending trial."

Chansley argues that he had only entered the Capitol at the invitation of former President Donald Trump, and Lamberth said "the Court need not question the sincerity of this claim." Still, "it does not persuade the Court that defendant would not pose a danger to others if released."

In November, Chansley had "promoted identifying and then hanging those he considers to be traitors within the United States Government."

Then in an interview with NBC News, which Lamberth referred to in his opinion, Chansley said: "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.”

He also called then-Vice President Mike Pence a "f---ing traitor" and during the riot, Chansley left a "threatening" note for Pence that said: "IT'S ONLY A MATTER OF TIME JUSTICE IS COMING!" according to prosecutors.

Chansley faces felony charges of civil disorder, carrying a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and obstruction of an official proceeding, which has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Chansley was moved last month from a jail in Washington to the Alexandria Detention Center in Virginia because organic food wasn't served at the jail in Washington, and Chansley considers eating organic food to be part of his “shamanic belief system and way of life,” his lawyer had said.

Daniel Barnes contributed.