In striking, unvarnished language, the federal government is now describing the events of January 6th as a “violent insurrection that attempted to overthrow the United States Government” and alleges that “the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials.”
These shocking phrases feature prominently in a new court brief (embedded below) that was filed in the case of Jacob Anthony Chansley — better known as Jake Angeli, or the QAnon Shaman. Chansley participated in the day’s events shirtless, carrying a flag-draped spear, and wearing red and blue face-paint and a horned helmet. As seen in now-famous photographs from the storming of the Capitol, Chansley reached the dais in the Senate chamber. There, the government now alleges, he left a menacing note for Vice President Mike Pence that read: “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”
The court filing is the government’s “brief in support of detention,” and it argues that Chansley is dangerous and should remain locked up until trial. Written by Michael Bailey, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, the document describes Chansley as “repeated drug user” who “demonstrates scattered and fanciful thoughts, and is unable to appreciate reality.” It characterizes him as “the shaman of a dangerous extremist group,” QAnon, who “has made himself the most prominent symbol of… a violent insurrection that attempted to overthrow the United States Government.” It concludes: “His history and characteristics require detention.”
This government brief marks a significant escalation in the rhetoric used to describe the January 6th storming of the Capitol, although Acting U.S. Attorney for Washington Michael Sherwin did say Wednesday that the federal government was likely to pursue “felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy.” These are not the charges now facing Chansley, who faces two felony counts, namely interference with a “law enforcement officer lawfully engaged in the lawful performance of his official duties incident to and during the commission of a civil disorder” and an obstructing a proceeding before Congress, “by committing an act of civil disorder, and threatening Congressional officials, and unlawfully remaining in a restricted building without lawful authority.”
The brief paints Chansley as unstable and dangerous, describing him as having “spoken openly about his belief that he is an alien, a higher being, and he is here on Earth to ascend to another reality” and as a devotee of QAnon — which the government here short-hands as “a group who believes a debunked and fictitious conspiracy claim that Satan-worshipping cannibalistic pedophiles are running a global child sex-trafficking ring and plotting against President Donald Trump.”
The document describes the federal questioning of Chansley about the meaning of the note that he left for Pence. It describes Chansley as spouting a “lengthy diatribe describing current and past United States political leaders as infiltrators, specifically naming Vice President Mike Pence, former President Barack Obama, former Senator Hillary Clinton and U.S. President-elect Joe Biden as infiltrators involved in various types of wrongdoing.”
The government and Chansley do not see eye-to-eye on the meaning of the note: “Although he stated his note was not a threat,” the brief reads, “the Government strongly disagrees.”
Chansley’s lawyer, St. Louis attorney Albert S. Watkins, said in a statement to Rolling Stone that his client is a peaceful person, without a criminal record, who was just following his leader, Donald Trump. “[Chansley] listened to and heard the words of the president inviting him to walk with the president down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol…. In 1978 a fellow by the name of Jim Jones convinced his flock to go to a former British colony now known as Guyana. His followers were gentle and smart and they literally drank the Kool Aid. The only thing missing on Jan 6 was a big cooler filled with Kool Aid.” He also said that he will be seeking a pardon for his client.