'Seduced by Trump': QAnon Shaman's bizarre legal defence

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A man who anointed himself “QAnon Shaman” and donned horns and face paint at the US Capitol riots in January has offered an unusual motivation for his alleged actions.

Jacob Chansley, who was widely photographed in the Senate chamber with a flagpole topped with a spear, could face 41 to 51 months in prison under sentencing guidelines, a prosecutor said. Chansley pleaded guilty on Friday.

Chansley acknowledged in a court record to being one of the first 30 pro-Trump rioters to stream into the Capitol building. He riled up the crowd with a bullhorn as officers tried to control them, posed for photos, profanely referred to then-Vice President Mike Pence as a traitor while in the Senate. He wrote a note to Pence saying, “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”

A pro-Trump mob confronts US Capitol police outside the Senate chamber of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC.
Jacob Chansley, aka 'QAnon Shaman', confronts US Capitol police outside the Senate chamber of the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC during riots in January. Source: Getty Images

He also made a social media post in November in which he promoted hangings for traitors.

Trump was his 'first love'

Chansley’s lawyer Albert Watkins told reporters outside court his client loved then-US President Donald Trump and was "seduced" by him.

“He had a fondness for Trump that was not unlike the first love a man may have for a girl, or a girl for a man, or man for a man,” Mr Watkins said.

“The first love always, always maintains a tender and soft spot in the heart of the lover.”

The man had long been a fixture at Trump rallies. Two months before the riot, he appeared in costume and carried a QAnon sign at a protest alongside other Trump supporters outside an election office in Phoenix where votes were being counted.

Former US President Donald Trump  makes an entrance at the Rally To Protect Our Elections conference in Phoenix, Arizona.
Former US President Donald Trump at the Rally To Protect Our Elections conference in Phoenix, Arizona in July. Source: Getty Images

Mr Watkins told reporters that Chansley was under pressure from family members not to plead guilty because they believed Trump would be reinstated as president and would pardon him.

Chansley is among roughly 600 people charged in the riot that forced lawmakers into hiding as they were meeting to certify President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Fifty others have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanor charges of demonstrating in the Capitol.

Only one defendant who pleaded guilty to a felony charge has received their punishment so far.

Paul Hodgkins, a crane operator from Florida who breached the US Senate chamber carrying a Trump campaign flag, was sentenced in July to eight months in prison after pleading guilty to obstructing an official proceeding.

Chansley’s lawyer said his client has since repudiated the QAnon movement and asked that there be no more references to his past affiliations with the movement.

with the Associated Press

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