“What you probably did was horrible. You made your self the epitome of the riot,” mentioned the decide, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan. “You didn’t slug anyone, however what you probably did right here was really impede the functioning of the entire authorities. It’s a severe crime.”
Chansley pleaded responsible in August to trying to impede Congress’ effort to certify the outcomes of the 2020 election. He sought a pardon from President Donald Trump simply earlier than his time period ended, and he has since claimed he was duped by Trump into his perception that the election was stolen. He supplied to testify at Trump’s impeachment trial in February however was denied.
However Chansley’s imposing presence in the Capitol has turn out to be a logo of the assault. He wore face paint and a horned headdress, which he says was a part of his shamanistic apparel, and he carried a flagpole with a sharpened tip whereas towering menacingly over law enforcement officials exterior the Senate chamber.
After his arrest, one of many first of about 700 linked to the Jan. 6 assault, he was ordered held in pretrial detention as a potential flight danger, due to his prominence in the QAnon neighborhood and unsure sources of financing. Whereas detained, he briefly made headlines for an interview with “60 Minutes+” — incomes a rebuke from Lamberth — and a profitable battle to receive natural meals due to his non secular perception.
“It did wonders for me,” Chansley mentioned.
However Lamberth famous that his choice to transfer Chansley from the D.C. jail to a Virginia jail so he might get a particular eating regimen led to some criticism.
“I took lots of flak for that,” the decide mentioned.
Lamberth’s sentence adopted a prolonged in-court enchantment from Chansley himself, who mentioned his 317 days in pretrial confinement had “modified” him as an individual. He discovered he suffered from a persona dysfunction and lamented that he had turn out to be synonymous with the horrors of the assault on the Capitol.
“That’s lots of unhealthy juju that I by no means meant to create,” Chansley mentioned throughout a generally rambling, half-hour-long deal with to the court docket. “My shamanic apparel is designed to chase away evil spirits, not to scare individuals.”
In court docket on Wednesday, Chansley wore a colorless inexperienced jail jumpsuit. His head was clean-shaven and he sported a beard. The one signal of the jarring picture he struck on Jan. 6 have been the big tattoos seen on his arms.
Standing on the courtroom lectern with out his legal professional however with a deputy marshal positioned behind him, Chansley quoted Justice Clarence Thomas and repeatedly praised Lamberth for his navy service.
Chansley, 34, insisted that he accepted full accountability for his actions, however he additionally argued that he posed no ongoing risk to others and he repeatedly mentioned he was dismayed at how he’d been portrayed in the media.
“I used to be flawed for coming into the Capitol. … I’ve no excuse, no excuse in anyway. The conduct is indefensible,” he mentioned.
“I’m in no approach, form or type a harmful prison. I’m not a violent man. I’m not an insurrectionist. I’m actually not a home terrorist. I’m man who broke the legislation,” Chansley added.
Chansley’s legal professional Albert Watkins mentioned his shopper’s psychological well being points have been recognized when he was in the Navy a decade and a half in the past, however mentioned Chansley was by no means advised of the prognosis nor given correct remedy.
Watkins steered in passing that some concerned in Jan. 6 occasions had been “duped, or used or exploited,” however he didn’t dwell on that time.
Throughout his remarks, Chansley by no means instantly addressed the QAnon conspiracy idea, his views on the election or the function Trump performed in inspiring the riot.
Talking to reporters after the sentence was handed down, Watkins mentioned that his shopper now accepted the election outcomes as legitimate and that he appeared to lose religion in Trump after Trump ignored Chansley’s request for a pardon.
“President Trump is not somebody that is necessary to him,” the protection legal professional mentioned. “The message of any political thought at this level … is completely of zero significance. … It grew to become actually clear when President Trump didn’t pardon him.”
Watkins appeared brimming with anger about Trump’s conduct, saying he thought that Trump had an obligation to “handle lots of the jackasses that you just f—ed up due to Jan. 6.”
“There are lots of people on Jan. 6 who have been dramatically impacted by the president,” the protection lawyer added.
Nonbinding federal sentencing pointers known as for between 41 and 51 months in prison for Chansley on the felony obstruction rely he pleaded responsible to.
Watkins requested in a written pleading that Chansley obtain a sentence “considerably under” that vary, however prosecutors urged Lamberth to impose a sentence on the prime finish of that vary, 51 months. They rejected arguments that he was a “peaceable” participant in the Jan. 6 mob.
“If the defendant had been peaceable on that day, Your Honor, we’d not be right here,” Assistant U.S. Lawyer Kimberly Paschall mentioned.
Paschall mentioned Chansley had spent months whipping up followers right into a frenzy over false claims of voter fraud, describing his efforts as “a name to battle.” Then, she mentioned, Chansley stormed previous police and onto the Senate dais, the place Pence stood simply moments earlier than and wrote a observe that learn “It’s solely a matter of time. Justice is coming.”
The prosecutor mentioned Chansley’s statements weren’t mere bluster as a result of they have been delivered amid the riot and with Pence and others nonetheless in hazard.
“He’s toes away from the thing of his contempt,” Paschall mentioned. “This observe was not peaceable. This observe is a risk.”
Watkins indicated that Chansley had additionally been cooperating with the federal government since his incarceration. He has sat for a number of debriefings, Watkins famous, and is keen to provide additional assist.
The obstruction cost that Chansley pleaded responsible to and that different Capitol riot defendants are difficult in court docket carries a most potential sentence of 20 years in prison. Chansley mentioned that for a interval after his arrest he was distraught as a result of he thought he was sure to obtain the utmost.
“I assumed it was going to be 20 years of solitary confinement,” he mentioned.
Chansley additionally used his remarks to distinguish himself from the opposite defendants who’ve been jailed alongside him, suggesting they’re extra hardened than he is.
“I’m nothing like these people who I’ve been incarcerated with,” he mentioned, including, “They’re appearing like they’re in the Vacation Inn whereas they’re incarcerated.”
Final week, Lamberth delivered one other 41-month sentence to a New Jersey man who admitted punching a police officer in the face amidst the riot on the Capitol. The pair of sentences are probably the most extreme meted out to date in Jan. 6-related instances, though extra severe expenses stay pending in opposition to many defendants.
Because the court docket listening to concluded on Wednesday, Lamberth steered as he did final week that remaining defendants in the Capitol riot instances could be smart to plead responsible. He assured Chansley that he would’ve obtained much more prison time if he had gone to trial quite than settle for a plea deal.
“If they need to go to trial they will, however you have been sensible,” the decide assured Chansley. “It might not really feel it at this time, however I assure you, you have been sensible.”