ST. LOUIS – St. Louis attorney Al Watkins, who also represented the McCloskeys, is now representing Jacob A. Chansley of Arizona, a man photographed multiple times inside the US Capitol Building during the riot on January 6.
“My client, Jacob, was one of those committed individuals and he had followed President Trump, he loved President Trump,” Watkins said. “And on January 6, the president spoke to him.”
Chansley faces four counts of misdemeanors and a felony charge.
“He has 20 years hanging over his head,” Watkins said. “The felony charge because he followed the president, because he accepted the president’s invitation.”
Watkins said Chansley is a veteran.
“He has zero criminal history. He is a lover of nature, routinely practices meditation, is an active practitioner of yoga, and eats only organic food,” he said. “He took seriously the countless messages of President Trump. He believed in President Trump. Like tens of millions of other Americans, Chansley felt—for the first time in his life—as though his voice was being heard.”
Chansley is being held in a Phoenix federal facility in quarantine custody as a COVID-19 precaution. Watkins said Chansley does not have COVID-19. Watkins said Chansley “voluntarily and peacefully surrendered to federal authorities immediately upon learning of their interest in him.” He said he was peaceful, unarmed, and had no intention of committing felony acts.
“That man’s not taking over the country. That man is not leading an insurrection. That man is not doing anything,” he said. “As a shaman, other than putting faith in our president and obeying law enforcement present.”
During an interview on CNN, Watkins said Chansley “was answering the call” and Trump has an “obligation” to pardon people who went to the Capitol with “peace in mind.”
Watkins continued, saying “My role is not to judge somebody… my role is to be an advocate. If there is one iota of a chance that the guy… who is the president of our country, who invited everyone down Pennsylvania… will give my client a pardon? You know what? I’m going to do it.”
Watkins said his client was referred to him through Washington, D.C. lawyers. He has been licensed in Washington, D.C. since the mid 1980s. He said he thought about it long and hard, but chose to represent him.
“My obligation is to my client. Always, my duty is not to judge my client, my duty is to be an advocate for my client,” he said. “Now, all of that being said, this case is very interesting.”
Watkins said authorities determined Chansley was not a flight risk and will be released, pending the trial in Washington, D.C.
A detention hearing is set for Friday in this case.