“I am very grateful for the willingness of the court to have my mental deficiencies examined,” Chansley said before pleading guilty to obstructing an official trial.
US District Judge Royce Lamberth is considering Chansley’s motion to be released from prison while he awaits his conviction, scheduled for November 17.
Chansley was among the first wave of pro-Trump rioters to invade the Capitol. He yelled into a megaphone as officials tried to control the crowd, posed for photos, and profanely referred to then-Vice President Mike Pence as a traitor in the Senate. He wrote a note to Pence saying, “It is only a matter of time before justice comes.” In November, he also posted a social media post promoting the hanging of traitors.
The picture of Chansley with his face painted like the American flag, wearing a bearskin headdress and looking like he was howling, was one of the first noticeable images to emerge from the riot.
Chansley is among the roughly 600 defendants indicted in the riot that forced lawmakers to go into hiding when they met to confirm President Joe Biden’s electoral college victory. Fifty others pleaded guilty mainly on charges of demonstrations in the Capitol.
Only one defendant who pleaded guilty to a crime has so far been punished. Paul Hodgkins, a Florida crane operator who broke into the Senate Chamber with a Trump election flag, was sentenced to eight months in prison in July after pleading guilty to obstructing an official trial.
Chansley’s attorney said his client has since rejected the QAnon movement and asked that there be no more evidence of his previous membership in the movement.
The man has long been a fixture at Trump rallies. Two months before the uprising, he appeared in costume and carried a QAnon sign at a protest along with other Trump supporters outside an election office in Phoenix where the votes were counted.
His attorney said Chansley had previously been “terribly beaten” by Trump and, like other rioters, believed Trump called him to the Capitol, but later felt betrayed after Trump refused to meet Chansley and others involved in the uprising to grant a pardon.
After spending his first month in jail, Chansley said he had reassessed his life, expressed regret for storming the building and apologized for scaring others.
Chansley stopped eating twice in prison and lost 9 kilograms until authorities started feeding him organic food.
Watkins has characterized the spear Chansley wore as an ornament, denied that his client’s message to Pence was threatening, and claimed Chansley was in the third wave of rioters entering the Capitol.
But the judge said the video showed Chansley entering the Capitol through a door when rioters smashed nearby windows, “literally leading the rush into the building.”