St. Louis attorney compares Trump to cult leader Jim Jones

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - A prominent St. Louis attorney is defending one of the most prominent rioters at the U.S. Capitol and is asking for a pardon from President Donald Trump. He compared the event to cult leader Jim Jones and the mass murder-suicide in 1978.

You've likely seen photos of the bare-chested man in a fur cap with horns. Jacob Chansley is his name, but he's also known as the "QAnon Shaman" and his attorney, Albert Watkins of Kodner Watkins Law Firm, says the devout religious man was simply following the lead of his president.

"He is one of the most soft-spoken gentle human beings you'll ever meet. He has zero criminal background or history. He served honorably in the U.S. Military," Watkins says.

Chansley faces a charge of unlawful and violent entry of the Capitol building and "active participation in an insurrection" to overthrow the U.S. Government. Watkins says police opened the Capitol doors for his client and he did not engage in any violent behavior.

"My client believed he was being invited by the President to an open, public building," Watkins says. "And when he got to the building, he was ushered right in by law enforcement, by capitol police who were guarding the door."

Attorney Al Watkins
Attorney Al Watkins

Watkins was asked by KMOX if his client and others should still be held accountable for having the "personal responsibility" to not storm the building. He brought up the death of more than 900 people who were followers of Jim Jones. The self-proclaimed faith healer moved his cult to South America in the 1970's and orchestrated a mass suicide.

"They were all about love and peace and they listened to the words of their leader and you know what ended up happening? They drank the Kool-Aid and died. The only thing missing from the Capitol – from the President who said, 'I'm going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue with you.' The only thing missing was the big bin of Kool-Aid being stirred," Watkins says.

The FBI has identified more than 200 suspects in the violent storming of the Capitol last Wednesday. Five people died as a result of the insurrection.

"And so now because my client won the best costume award for this event, is really in effect the highest-profile individual of the individuals who have thus far been charged," Watkins says.

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