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Self-Styled ‘Shaman’ Ditches the ‘QAnon’ Moniker and Will Plead Guilty in Capitol Siege Case — Months After Saying Trump Duped Him

Jacob Chansley is seen at the U.S. Capitol in a Jan. 6, 2021 Getty Images photo. He is also seen in a Feb. 4, 2021 mugshot released by the Alexandria, Va. Detention Center.

Jacob Chansley is seen at the U.S. Capitol in a Jan. 6, 2021 Getty Images photo. He is also seen in a Feb. 4, 2021 mugshot released by the Alexandria, Va. Detention Center.

One of the most visible participants in the Jan. 6th siege of the U.S. Capitol appears poised to cop a plea deal on Friday, nearly eight months after his lawyer claimed he realized that former President Donald Trump “duped” him.

Pictured behind the dais where former Vice President Mike Pence stood during the certification of the 2020 election, so-called “QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley instantly became an icon of the Jan. 6th attack for his unique costume. Chansley wore face paint and a coyote-fur and horned headdress—but no shirt. His bare torso flaunted various tattoos, at least one of which some researchers linked to a symbol that has been appropriated by white supremacists.

Repeatedly losing his bids for pre-trial release, Chansley had several months behind bars to reflect upon his supposed recognition of how the 45th president led him astray before agreeing to put his prosecution behind him. A federal judge scheduled a plea agreement hearing on Friday.

Marking the occasion, Chansley’s flamboyant lawyer Albert Watkins wrote that that his client wishes to ditch the first part of oft-used moniker.

“Mr. Chansley, a long-avowed and practicing Shaman, has repudiated the ‘Q’ previously assigned to him and requests future references to him be devoid of use of the letter ‘Q’,” Watkins wrote, in a statement describing himself as the “acclaimed St. Louis attorney known for his outspoken candor.”

Scholars of shamanism have questioned Chansley’s professed faith, which he claimed compelled him to eat only organic meals behind bars.

“Jacob Chansley’s shamanism bears scant resemblance to the real thing, although he gets high sartorial marks for headgear and ink,” Professor Michael F. Brown, the president of the Santa Fe-based School for Advanced Research and author of The Channeling Zone: American Spirituality in an Anxious Age, told Law&Crime in March. “Traditional shamans consume organic foods largely because that’s all they have access to. Some take hallucinogens as part of their practice, while others don’t. But traditional shamanism is closely connected to specific communities and their cultural understandings, which hardly seems to be the case for him.”

Senior U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth nevertheless granted Chansley request for special meals in pre-trial lockup, where Watkins says his client has been doing hard thinking.

“The road leading up to the events of January 6 traversed years,” Watkins wrote. “The path charted by Mr. Chansley since January 6 has been a process, one which has involved pain, depression, solitary confinement, introspection, recognition of mental health vulnerabilities, and a coming to grips with the need for more self-work. It is imperative that patience and compassion be accorded those, who like Mr. Chansley, were non-violent, peaceful and possessed of genuine mental health issues which rendered them more vulnerable to the propaganda of the day but who, at the end of day, seek to be accountable for their actions.”

Prosecutors reject Chansley’s personal branding as a practitioner of ahimsa, an ancient Indian principle of non-violence toward all living beings.

Court papers show a picture of a note Chansley left Pence on the dais.

“It’s only a matter of time,” it read. “Justice is coming!”

VP Pence note

Jacob Chansley left this note for ex-Vice President Mike Pence after stepping behind the dais during the U.S. Capitol siege, prosecutors say.

Chansley did not dispute that he left that missive, only that it was threatening. His sentencing has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Eastern Time on Friday morning.

(Photos via Getty and Chansley’s mugshot)

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."