In what was billed as Chansley’s first interview since his arrest, he said that his actions were “not an attack on this country” and that he does not regret being loyal to former president Donald Trump. Chansley became one of the most distinct individuals arrested in the riot, photographed flexing near the vice president’s chair in the Senate while shirtless and wearing a headdress and face paint.
Watkins said he did make “independent arrangements” with “60 Minutes+” but denied conducting “subterfuge.” He said he assumed his client would be allowed to be captured on camera from his office.
A decision about Chansley’s detention is still pending.
Chansley has been behind bars since he was arrested in his hometown of Phoenix on Jan 9.
In February, a judge ordered Chansley moved to a jail in Virginia that serves organic food after he claimed that nonorganic food was against his religion.
Chansley has been charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building among other federal felony charges. He is among more than 300 charged in the Capitol riots that resulted in five deaths.
In a previous interview with The Washington Post, he said he danced, sang and prayed in the Capitol, drumming on the floor with his pole to “reclaim our nation.”
He also said he left a note for Vice President Mike Pence that said: “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”
On Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Paschall argued that Chansley is a danger to the community and should therefore remain jailed until trial. She said there was “ample evidence” that Chansley was carrying a spear while facing off with an officer inside the Senate chambers. She pointed to Chansley’s “60 Minutes Plus” interview as evidence of his still-standing belief “that the current government is not a legitimate government and that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.”
She argued that Chansley would not be capable of following conditions of release.
Watkins, meanwhile, painted his client as a nonviolent man misled and let down by Trump, whom he greatly admired. He highlighted Chansley’s lack of criminal history and said his client simply walked into the Capitol after police let him in. The judge and prosecutor pushed back.
“I am not belittling my client . . . but my client was wearing horns,” he said. “He had tattoos around his nipples. He wasn’t leading anywhere. He was a follower.”
Watkins also said that Chansley believes in ahimsa, a form of nonviolence toward living things, and denied that the flagpole he carried was a spear.
Chansley apologized last month for storming the Capitol, saying he regrets entering the building and that Trump “let a lot of peaceful people down.”
Chansley publicly requested — but did not receive — a pardon from Trump, an outcome with which he expressed disappointment in the “60 Minutes Plus+” interview. At one point, Chansley had offered to testify against Trump during his impeachment trial.
On Friday, Watkins cast the absence of a pardon as a turning point for Chansley.
“My client went from that point to expressing deep disappointment in the former president,” he said.