Lawyer for 'QAnon Shaman' defends client's involvement in Capitol riot as he begs for Trump pardon
Jake Angeli, second from right, is a prominent supporter of the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory. © Win McNamee, AFP

The attorney for the man known as "QAnon Shaman" recently participated in a relatively bizarre television interview where he attempted to defend his client's decision to storm the U.S. Capitol with other angry Trump supporters.

On Thursday, Jan. 14, attorney Al Watkins appeared on "Cuomo Primetime" with CNN host Chris Cuomo where they discussed his client, Jacob Anthony Chansley, also known as Jake Angeli, of Arizona. The interview, which was split into two different segments due to technical difficulties on Watkins' end, included distorted audio, low-quality webcam displays, and a public plea for a presidential pardon.

"Jacob Chansley wants a pardon from Trump," Cuomo said at the top of the segment, adding, "He calls himself the QAnon Shaman. I don't know what that means and I don't care."

Cuomo then asked Watkins about his client's plea for President Donald Trump. "Just to be clear, your client believes that he was invited to go, he was told to go, he was instructed to go by the commander-in-chief himself, Donald Trump. Is that accurate?"

"It's very accurate to say that not only my client, but a large number of individuals, who were present felt like they were on a mission to be able to have their voices..." Watkins said amid technical difficulties.

"Hold on, hold on a second, Al," Cuomo said. "I'm not hearing you well. When you turn your head to the right I hear you. Turn your head to the right and talk for a second."

CNN Cuomo Prime Time 1/14/21 | CNN News Today January 14, 2021

After going to a commercial break, Cuomo came back and attempted to continue the interview.

"The QAnon Shaman, that's what he calls himself, he's the fool with the painted face and the weird horns on his head, he's one of the people who decided to break into the Capitol, his attorney is on the phone with me now," said Cuomo after the break. "Al, you can hear me, yes?"

After resolving his audio issues, Watkins defended his client as he expressed concern about Cuomo describing Trump supporters as "fools."

"Yes, I can," Watkins said adding, "I want to tell you it's really important we should stop calling people fools because we have a large percentage of our population who spent a great deal of time in their lives hanging on every word of President Trump."

Watkins also argued that his client did not "break into" the U.S. Capitol but instead, walked in as the doors were being held open by Capitol Police. He also noted that Chansley did not attempt to hide his face and was "not armed," and "didn't have zip ties." According to Watkins, Chansley is also a Navy veteran with "no criminal background whatsoever."

However, Cuomo quickly pointed out that photos and footage captured Chansley, the shirtless protester seen wearing a helmet with bull horns, was "walking around with a six-foot spear!"

Watkins went on to describe his client as being "like a lot of other disenfranchised people in our country felt very, very, very solidly in sync with President Trump."

He added, "He felt like his voice was for the first time being heard. He loved Trump, every word. He listened to him. He felt like he was answering the call of our president. My client wasn't violent. He didn't cross over any police lines. He didn't assault anyone. He was there at the invitation of our president."

According to Watkins, "Trump needs to stand up and own these people," Watkins argued, those who went to the Capitol who "weren't going to be violent…he owes them — he has an obligation to them."

But Cuomo refused to back down. "Al, this is serious stuff we're dealing with," Cuomo said. "Your client is a little bit of a joke and asking for a pardon makes everything razor-focused how absurd this situation is."

"Now that's the point now, isn't it?" Watkins replied.

Cuomo made it clear that Trump's words hold very little significance at this point. "I don't know what the point is anymore, to be honest. Why does he believe what the president tells him? There has been no proof of any election fraud. The same reason he believes QAnon because he's not thinking about what he believes."

After going in circles with Watkins for several additional minutes, Cuomo ended the bizarre interview. Chansley is still behind bars and facing a string of charges including "civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, disorderly conduct in a restricted building, and demonstrating in a Capitol building." According to AZ Family, additional charges could also be filed against him.