The man who attained national notoriety as the face of the January 6 Capitol riot has emerged from prison with his conspiratorial views “reinforced. ...If anything, they're stronger than they were."
The QAnon Shaman, whose real name is Jacob Chansley but who now wants to be known as Jake Angeli, walked out of an Arizona halfway house Thursday after being sentenced to 41 months in prison for his role in the incitement. His image as he strutted through the Capitol bare-chested, his face smeared with red, white and blue paint and his head and shoulders draped in a fur, bison-horned headdress, became world famous.
Hours after his release, he told Raw Story in an exclusive interview that he continues to love and support Donald Trump – and he isn't ruling out a political career of his own.
Angeli, 35, pleaded guilty on November 17, 2021, to felony obstruction of an official proceeding. He served 29 months of his sentence.
He spoke one-on-one with Raw Story via Zoom – though he was told by his lawyer not to respond to questions about the events of January 6.
His release occurred just hours before Oath Keeper founder Stewart Rhodes received an 18-year sentence from U.S. Judge Amit Mehta for seditious conspiracy in connection with the attack on the Capitol. At his sentencing, Rhodes continued to claim to the judge that he was a “political prisoner.”
In the Raw Story interview, Angeli was asked if he believed he was the same – or if prison had mellowed his views.
“That's an interesting question,” Angeli said. “Let me put it this way: My belief that the government and the media are corrupt has only been reinforced.”
He added: "It just reinforced them. If anything, they're stronger than they were."
So, did Angeli, who sat in former Vice President Mike Pence's Senate chair and left him a threatening note, but who was not charged with acts of violence, feel that he fell into a different category than the Oath Keepers? Or did he consider them brothers-in-arms?
“I feel compassion and sympathy for them because I try to remain as objective as possible in every instance and I try to see things from everybody's perspective," he said. "I can see why they consider themselves whatever it is. I understand, that doesn't mean I agree. But I also understand positions on the left that I don't agree with.”
Angeli said he continues to back Trump.
“I love Donald Trump,” he said. “I respect that man and he has my support. But that doesn't mean that I don't critique his policies or the things that he says. I mean, this is America, you know, we're allowed to have an opinion."
“I don't even think he's a politician,” Angeli added. “I think he's a man who – especially because the media had such a strong and intense campaign against him – had more of a following than if they would have just gotten behind him or just left him alone. And it also illustrated through his plight that anybody that isn't uniparty Washington DC establishment is going to be vilified and destroyed by the system that profits from our tax dollars and proxy foreign wars.”
But asked if he'd do it all again, if he thought it was in support of Trump, he declined to answer. "There's too much there and we don't have time to cover it," he said. "It's a loaded question."
Angeli, who lives in Arizona, similarly doubled down in his support for former TV anchor Kari Lake, who has refused to accept her loss last November to Governor Katie Hobbs. Lake’s claims of election fraud have been repeatedly rejected by the courts.
But Angeli said, “Of course” Lake was the real winner in the election. He reiterated her claims that the election was fraudulent.
“Absolutely. Kari Lake has my full support. I love that woman and everything she's done for Arizona,” he said.
Angeli apparently plans to stay involved in the political world in some manner. "He is set to speak Sunday at a welcome-home celebration at a Scottsdale church, the Arizona Republic reported. He has a website offering consultations with him for $500, and merchandise that features his iconic image on reusable water bottles, phone cases and apparel,” the report said.
Raw Story asked Angeli if he was considering a run for office.
“People have asked me that before,” he responded. “The only way that I would ever do that is if there was such a strong demand for it.”
So, was that a yes?
“I wouldn't rule it out, but in all honesty, politics is so dang dirty, and Washington is so frickin’ filthy and politics, even here in Arizona, is so corrupt,” Angeli said. “You get in there all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and then a man in a suit with a gun in one hand and maybe a briefcase in the other says, 'Look, this is how it works, son.'"
Angeli said he continues to maintain what he terms “the practice of shamanism.” Asked if he embraced the title of “Shaman,” he said: “I am a shamanic practitioner. Anybody that calls themselves a shaman most likely isn't one. Shaman is actually a Mongolian or Siberian term, and it means 'the one who knows.'"
"But every culture has shamanism at the roots. It's like a medicine man or medicine woman – 'witch doctor' is the derogatory term. It's about getting in touch and in tune with nature, about getting in touch and in tune with the spirit world and God. It's about experiences. It's about ascension. It's about enlightenment. It's about altered states of consciousness to gain a larger broader view of this world and the spirit world simultaneously."
"So, the shaman has their foot in one world, the spirit world, and the other foot in the actual physical world. And they act like a medium between these two worlds for the people that per se don't have the courage to do what the shaman does.”
Does that make it a cult?
“Usually, cults are led by some sort of a charismatic and egocentric leader. Shamanism is not a cult at all. It’s actually the antithesis of that.”
Of his outfit, Angeli said, “I’ve heard a lot of people call it a costume. It’s regalia on the level of priestly robes in the shamanic tradition.”
The moniker QAnon Shaman, he said, wasn't some he came up with. Instead it was given to him by the Sandy Hook conspiracist Alex Jones. "Then the media just took off with it and had the audacity to proclaim that I gave myself that title without any proof whatsoever for their claims."
“I neither embrace nor reject the title. ... If a mystical shamanic name is necessary, I use the name "Yellowstone Wolf. But there are those who call me America's Shaman and I like that name much more than Qanon Shaman. The reason being the stigma that has been created in the media for that name and the persona they attached to it are in no way who I am or the persona I represent. They created a straw man to use in their propaganda machine, a straw man that they could use to create a shock and awe campaign to further their psychological, social and political agenda.”
Angeli declined to discuss his current views on Qanon, saying it was “far too nuanced and complex to comment on right now.”
But he did say: “I want to be very clear. I am a libertarian. I'm not a Republican, I'm not a Democrat. That's very important. I'm a Libertarian who believes in the Constitution and I firmly believe in the idea that we are republic, not a democracy."
He added, “I'm of the belief that we can no longer trust institutions. I don't care what they are. We have to learn to stop trusting the wrong people or the wrong institutions to do the right thing. And we have to start trusting individuals who have proven over the years that they are willing to undergo great personal sacrifice to get the truth to the people.”
Given the opportunity to suggest a headline for a story about himself, Angeli suggested: “Jake Angeli. He’s not what you think.”