“QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley to be sentenced for role in January 6 attack

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Washington — The man known as the “QAnon Shaman,” who stormed the Senate chamber on January 6 adorned in face paint and wearing a fur helmet with horns, is due to be sentenced on Wednesday for his involvement in the attack on the Capitol.

Jacob Chansley, 34, from Phoenix, Arizona, pleaded guilty in September to one felony count of obstruction for his role in trying to block the counting of the 2020 Electoral College votes. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on the charge, but federal prosecutors are seeking a sentence of 51 months behind bars, the longest requested sentence in a January 6 investigation to date.

Images of a shirtless, spear-carrying Chansley entering the halls of Congress and sitting in the Senate president’s chair became iconic representations of the mayhem of January 6, when hundreds of pro-Trump rioters stormed the building and briefly delayed the formal counting of the electoral votes.

Multiple videos and pictures showed the defendant inside and outside the Capitol building, yelling at officers. He made his way into the Senate chamber, where he scrawled, “It’s Only A Matter of Time. Justice Is Coming,” on paper covering the desk where Vice President Mike Pence had been presiding over the Senate just minutes before, investigators said. 

Jacob Chansley, known as the “QAnon Shaman.” screams “freedom” inside the Senate chamber after the U.S. Capitol was breached by a mob during a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021.

/ Getty Images


On January 7, Chansley voluntarily called the FBI and admitted to his role in the attack, surrendering two days later. He was originally charged in a six-count indictment that included civil disorder, violent entry, and disorderly conduct before agreeing to plead guilty to the single charge of obstruction in September. Chansley has been jailed in Washington, D.C., and Virginia since his arrest.

Chansley’s lawyer, Albert Watkins, has said his client disavowed the QAnon conspiracy theory and sought to distance himself from former President Donald Trump, after unsuccessfully petitioning him for a presidential pardon.

Watkins also made several attempts to get his client released from jail throughout the litigation process, at one point successfully petitioning the court to move Chansley between detention facilities so he could have access to organic foods in accordance with his shaman faith.

Chansley, who according to court filings suffers from schizotypal personality disorder, asked Lamberth to sentence him to a time-served prison penalty, meaning he would get full credit for the time he has already spent behind bars.

In an interview from jail in March, Chansley told “60 Minutes+” correspondent Laurie Segall that he did not think his actions on January 6 were an attack on the nation.

“No, they were not, ma’am. My actions were not an attack on this country. That is incorrect. That is inaccurate, entirely,” he said. “It was my intention to bring divinity, and to bring God back into the Senate.”

Blaming his presence at the Capitol that day in part on his difficult family history and being “deemed an oddball” by classmates in school, his attorney wrote in a sentencing memorandum that Chansley “saw himself as a patriot, one who was admired for his self-taught discipline and sincere love for his country.”

Prosecutors, however, painted a different picture of the one-time sailor on the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk, who was honorably discharged from the Navy in 2007.

“The defendant … stalked the hallowed halls of the building, riling up other members of the mob with his screaming obscenities about our nation’s lawmakers,” they said, characterizing his role in the riot as the mob’s “flagbearer.”

“The damage done by the defendant and the mob he cheered onward that day will last far longer than the hours’ delay in the certification of the Presidential election results,” the government concluded.

Clare Hymes contributed reporting.

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