‘QAnon Shaman’ lawyer compares Trump to Jim Jones, begs for pardon in dumpster fire CNN interview
The trainwreck that was the interview between CNN’s Chris Cuomo and the attorney for the QAnon Shaman was bizarro. It’s hard to tell who is more nuts, the Shaman or his legal defense. The Capitol riot participant has now been arrested. Federal prosecutors claim he planned to capture and assassinate elected officials and that he left a note for Mike Pence saying “justice is coming” during the riot. The QAnon Shaman is facing 20 years in prison for his part in the storming of the Capitol.
The conversation between Cuomo and the attorney included a very glitchy audio feed, awkward webcam angles, comparisons between President Trump and mass suicide cult leader Jim Jones, and an open plea for a presidential pardon for his client. It’s jaw-dropping and riveting. Not sure whether to laugh or cringe or both.
The attorney’s name is Al Watkins and the interview was cut into two segments because Watkin’s audio feed kept cutting out. Cuomo finally got frustrated with that and took to the phone to interview the barrister.
“Jacob Chansely wants a pardon from Trump,” Cuomo stated, showing scenes from the riots with Chansely, also known as Jake Angeli. He’s decked out in his infamous furry horned hat, red-white-and-blue face paint, and shirtless torso covered in tattoos. The guy is not a poster boy for mental health.
“He calls himself the QAnon Shaman,” Cuomo continued. “I don’t know what that means and I don’t care.” For once, we can all agree with Fredo on something.
Cuomo then played opportunist and tried to pin the riot on President Trump. Are you surprised? “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 before his audio began dropping off.
Yes, because who wouldn’t solidly believe someone in Viking horns and a fur hat brandishing a spear.
“Hold on, hold on a second, Al,” interjected Cuomo. “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.” He should have asked him to cough while he was at it.
That didn’t pan out and at that point, Cuomo asked Watkins where his microphone was. Then Watkins laughingly began moving the laptop up and down and around in an attempt to improve the sound. I kid you not. That’s when Cuomo decided to do the interview by phone.
“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?”
“Yes, I can,” replied Watkins. “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.” If the horns fit. A large part of the population did not breach the U.S. Capitol.
Watkins is arguing that his client did not actually “break into” the Capitol, but walked through doors held open by Capitol Police. He “did not shroud his face in secrecy,” wasn’t wearing a bulletproof vest, was “not armed,” “didn’t have zip ties,” and was a military veteran with “no criminal background whatsoever.” Unless of course, you count the spear he was brandishing as an “arm.”
Watkins described Chansely as someone who “like a lot of other disenfranchised people in our country felt very, very, very solidly in sync with President Trump.” Interesting defense… laying the blame on the president and then begging for a pardon. Someone is off their meds.
“He felt like his voice was for the first time being heard,” Watkins continued. “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.” He did cross police lines and the act of storming the Capitol is arguably a violent act. And no, Trump did not invite him in.
Cuomo pushed back on a few of Watkins’ points, saying he had only called him a “fool” because of his unusual attire and his belief in the QAnon conspiracy cult: “It’s not rational thought.” But he’s totally credible, right?
Watkins stated that Chansely “is a genuine shaman” and a “long-standing professor of that faith.” Which makes him ever so much more credible.
Watkins then rambled on about how Trump’s words had “meant something” to his client and how many were getting arrested. Then he began openly calling for Trump to pardon Chansely, describing his client as “not a violent man… [h]e practices yoga, meditates all day long, couldn’t be a more gentle, soft-spoken human being.” Gentle or not, the guy needs mental help and, arguably, jail time.
“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.” There was no way the police could know in advance whether they were violent or not. This guy’s defense is swiss cheese. Trump owes them nothing.
Watkins says it is unlikely his client will get a presidential pardon and admitted he just figured it was worth a shot. He then made a strange comment that perhaps Trump would think favorably about his client — “what’s the name of the guy with the horns?” — and decided he would rather be “represented by the shaman instead of Rudy Giuliani.” Someone needs to come and take this guy away, stat. At least his client gets organic food to chew on.
“Al, this is serious stuff we’re dealing with,” Cuomo intoned. “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. Say what?
“I don’t know what the point is anymore, to be honest,” Cuomo said. “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.” The president didn’t ‘tell him’ anything – just because he hears voices in his head doesn’t mean Trump did it.
“In 1978 a whole bunch of people in San Francisco followed a guy by the name of Jim Jones down to Jonestown, Guyana –” Watkins began, referring to the cult leader who orchestrated the murder-suicide of over 900 people using a cyanide-laced Koolaid.
“It was a cult!” Cuomo slammed.
“That’s right. And you know the only thing different here, there’s no Kool-Aid,” said Watkins. I doubt Trump will take this guy’s call… ever. He should probably sue him for that comment.
The interview continued for a few more minutes and after Watkins was off the line, Cuomo looked in the camera and asked his audience, “How bizarre was that?”
Just another dumpster fire interview on CNN.