‘I Feel Betrayed’: QAnon Shaman Defense Attorney Calls For DOJ To Publicly State It Failed To Disclose Footage

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James Lynch Investigative Reporter
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Albert Watkins, a defense attorney for the “QAnon Shaman,” is calling for the Justice Department (DOJ) to publicly state that it failed to provide all the known footage of his client in the Capitol during his prosecution.

Watkins, a St. Louis-based attorney with nearly 40 years’ experience, told the Daily Caller about his reaction to the new footage released by Fox News host and Daily Caller co-founder Tucker Carlson, which showed his client walking inside the Capitol with police officers. He said the Justice Department withheld the footage shown by Carlson during the prosecution. (RELATED:‘They Had A Duty’: Attorney Who Defended ‘QAnon Shaman’ Says Gov’t Never Gave Him Video Evidence)

It is really important for people to understand and appreciate the government had a lawful and uncompromisable duty to disclose all exculpable evidence,” Watkins said.  I have a duty to put my client in a position of knowledge of all the evidence, good and bad, and the depriving of a defendant of any evidence, good and bad, especially exculpatory evidence, [is] unforgivable, in the context of justice, vile.”

The QAnan Shaman, whose real name is Jacob Chansley, is a Navy veteran whom Watkins says the government diagnosed with a serious mental health condition. Chansley was unaware of his mental health condition and developed severe mental health issues during his time in solitary confinement.

The charges against Chansley include disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building and violent entry and disorderly conduct in the Capitol building.

Watkins filed three motions for pretrial release because of Chansley’s mental health issues and believes the newly released footage would have aided his case. Chansley was sentenced to 41 months in prison in November followed by 36 months of supervised release.

The deficiency that was evident in the production of discovery by the government in the Chansley case was not a one and done situation. Rather, it was the tip of the iceberg,” Watkins said. “A wholesale, systemic failure on the part of the government with respect to discovery dissemination.” 

Watkins believes the Justice Department should publicly state that it failed the legal system by “not [disclosing]” footage that went against its “narrative.” “The government was very careful not to disclose, despite requirements that they do so, video footage that did not match the government’s narrative,” he said. “There is not one federal judge who will embrace having been duped by an entire team of assistant U.S. Attorneys.” 

Distrust in the government will be a consequence of its decision to withhold footage, according to Watkins. “What the government has done is not simply despicable but it has lent credibility to a significant percentage of our population some might describe as already having gone down the rabbit hole.” 

Watkins emphasized he is not a liberal or a right-winger, and does not condone the Capitol riot, but is instead concerned about the implications of the Justice Department’s alleged actions for the legal system as a whole. “Depriving that right of one accused serves to compromise all of our rights forever,” he said. 

By getting this out there, Mr. Carlson has brought to the forth a gaping, painful, infected lesion of our Justice system,” he continued. “This is not about Tucker Carlson and this is not about Fox News, this is about the rights of defendants.” 

This cannot go without a strong, overwhelming, and public rebuke,” Watkins added. “I feel betrayed.”

Federal prosecutors argued on Tuesday that Carlson’s footage should not allow alleged Capitol rioters to delay their criminal trials. “This Court should not commit to an indefinite trial extension for this Defendant, or for any defendants, based on the unsupported allegation that pertinent information may exist somewhere, but is not currently known to either the prosecution or the defense,” U.S. Attorney Sean McCauley said in a court filing.

The Justice Department says most of Carlson’s footage has been provided to defense attorneys and some of it has aired in hearings. “Nearly all the footage displayed on the program has long been in the government’s production to defense counsel and, in some cases, has also been admitted in public hearings and/or trials and has been available to, released to, and/or published by news media,” the DOJ said, according to Politico.