Jake Angeli, who raided Capitol in horned hat, faces 51 months in jail

November 10, 2021
Jacob Chansley, who also goes by Jake Angeli, is seen in court sketches by courthouse sketch Maggie Keane at the Sandra Day O'Connor U.S courthouse in Phoenix on Jan. 15, 2020. Angeli was arrested and is facing felony charges related to the Jan. 6 raid on the U.S. Capitol.
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PHOENIX – Federal prosecutors have asked that Jake Angeli, the Arizona man who gained infamy by taking part in the Jan. 6 raid on the U.S. Capitol with a painted face and wearing a fur hat with horns, be imprisoned for 51 months.

An attorney representing Angeli, on the other hand, asked that he be released after his sentencing hearing, scheduled for Nov. 17, arguing that the more than 300 days he would have already served in custody would be adequate punishment.

Angeli pleaded guilty in September to a felony county of obstructing a civil proceeding, specifically the certification by Congress of the 2020 election results.

Angeli, who was charged under his legal name, Jacob Chansley, had joined thousands of others in storming the Capitol, disrupting the joint session of Congress. Angeli stood out with his attire: horned fur hat, with tails that draped his face, which was painted red, white and blue, and shirtless, showing off elaborate tattoos.

Angeli has said he drove to D.C. from Phoenix with others, feeling called to attend a rally by President Donald Trump, who had asked his supporters to amass that day.

Angeli entered the U.S. Senate chamber and posed for pictures, flexing his left arm, holding a spear topped with an American flag in his right hand, on the dais where Vice President Mike Pence had been presiding minutes before.

The government’s memorandum, filed Tuesday, opened by quoting the prayer Angeli said from that perch, as captured in video taken by a reporter working for The New Yorker magazine.

In it, Angeli thanked “Heavenly Father” for the opportunity to “send a message to all the tyrants, the communists and the globalists, that this is our nation, not theirs.”

The sentencing memorandum filed in Angeli’s defense opens with a quote from the movie, “Forrest Gump,” with the main character, whose name is misspelled in the memo, saying: “My momma always said, you’ve got to put the past behind you before you can move on.”

Angeli’s attorney, Albert Watkins of St. Louis, noted that Angeli had cooperated with authorities as soon as he knew he was being sought, including arriving at the Phoenix FBI office for an interview.

Watkins’s memo said that though a psychological examination of Angeli found him competent, it did diagnose him with “mental health infirmities.”

Angeli’s time in jail was made tougher than usual because of restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Watkins’s memo said, leading Angeli to serve his time in solitary confinement.

“He suffers from severe anxiety, panic attacks, and a constant feeling of claustrophobia while he is locked alone in his cell each day,” Watkins’s memo reads. Those conditions, he wrote, were intended for violent offenders and “surely not intended for the long-term confinement of a first-time non-violent offender.”

Watkins said the conditions and Angeli’s mental fitness merited the judge ratcheting the sentence downward from federal guidelines.

Watkins said that Angeli’s mental deficiencies should have been apparent as he walked around the frigid D.C. air without clothes and, like the movie character Gump, strolled through the Capitol seemingly oblivious to the events going on around him.

“He was not an organizer,” Watkins wrote of Angeli. “He was not a planner. He was not violent. He was not destructive. He was not a thief.”

Although Angeli was not accused of causing physical harm to anyone, prosecutors said he contributed to the culture of terror in the Capitol that day. Staffers barricaded themselves in offices. Lawmakers were spirited away down staircases fleeing the mob.

The government wrote in its memo that “each rioter’s actions were illegal and contributed, directly or indirectly, to the violence and destruction that day.”

Prosecutors said that while Angeli has asserted in interviews that his actions were peaceful, the evidence showed the opposite.

“The government cannot overstate the seriousness of the defendant’s conduct as one of the most prominent figures of the historic riot on the Capitol on January 6, 2021,” the memo read. “Armed with a six-foot long spear, the defendant brazenly marched past dozens of law enforcement officers, with rioters throwing debris of all kind at those who opposed them, past broken windows and through doors ringing with alarm bells.”

The memo said that Angeli’s actions were indicative of a “persistent mindset” that could lead him to repeat similar actions in the future.

“And it would be naïve to assume that this was an anomalous event in this defendant’s life,” the memorandum said. “(as) he has, long before January 6, drawn attention to himself and voiced his desire to remove those from our government who he views as traitors.”

Special report:QAnon, false flags and baby-eating liberals: How Arizona Patriots build community around conspiracy theories

Angeli had become noteworthy in the Phoenix area over since at least 2019 when he made an intentional spectacle of himself by donning the fur hat tipped with horns, a painted face and appearing shirtless, showing off the elaborate tattoos on his chest. Each, he would say, contained a deep meaning in keeping with his shamanistic beliefs.

Angeli became a fixture at protests and marches for various causes in and around Phoenix. At times, he needed no crowd. He would stand outside the state Capitol building or the building that housed the Arizona Republic newsroom, shouting invectives about corruption.

Angeli carried a weathered cardboard sign, appearing to have been shot through with a bullet hole, that said “Q Sent Me.” He said he did so to call attention to the writings of Q, who adherents believe was a government agent with top-secret Q clearance who was leaving cryptic clues on online bulletin boards that told of secret goings-on within the government.

For subscribers:‘The audit is The Great Awakening’: How QAnon lives on in Arizona’s election audit

The postings evolved into a wide-ranging conspiracy theory, in which some followers believed then-President Trump was investigating the crimes of global figures, which involved the trafficking of children for sex acts or even food

Watkins said that Angeli, who had been abused, neglected and picked on for much of his life, found a supportive community among Trump supporters. “(It) accorded him the opportunity to be seen, to be heard, and to become part of something he believed to be noble and patriotic, right and righteous.” 

Following the 2020 election, Angeli took part in nightly protests outside the building where election workers were tallying ballots cast in Maricopa County. In December, he took part in a brief daylong occupation of the lobby of the Arizona House of Representatives building.

For subscribers:Before the US Capitol raid, Jake Angeli and other Trump supporters staged attempt in Arizona

In D.C. on Jan. 6, Angeli also attracted attention. He was interviewed by all manner of journalists before the riot. He was photographed climbing towers set up outside the building for the inauguration of the incoming President Joe Biden.

Inside, his presence was unmistakable. He was captured in photos squaring off with a U.S. Capitol police officer and emitting howls in the Capitol halls.  Photos and videos of him inside the legislative chamber were widely distributed, making him one of the faces of the riot and fodder for late-night talk shows. His costume led national media to dub him the “QAnon shaman.”

Judge Royce Lamberth, in a ruling, noted that Angeli’s attire made his actions easy to spot while viewing video of the insurrection.

Lamberth said it was apparent that Angeli was among the first to enter the Capitol, belying his assertion that he simply strolled through an open door. “To the contrary,” the judge wrote, “he quite literally spearheaded it.”

The government, in its memo, said that Angeli was among the first 30 people to breach the U.S. Capitol.

Once inside, prosecutors said, Angeli challenged an officer who was trying to stop the crowd. Angeli, prosecutors said, used his bullhorn “to rile up the crowd and demand that lawmakers be brought out.”

Angeli made his way into the U.S. Senate chamber where he took the dais in defiance of an officer’s request. Angeli left a note for Pence, using a pen on the desk. “It’s only a matter of time,” the note read. “Justice is coming.”

Prosecutors told the judge that the note to Pence and the shouting about lawmakers amounted to a threat to cause physical injury, raising the level of the crime for sentencing guidelines.

Prosecutors, in their memo, said that Angeli was cleared from the chamber after being in the U.S. Capitol for about an hour. As he left, he used his megaphone, the memo said, to say one final word: “Freedom.”

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