Clayton lawyer Albert Watkins, no stranger to controversy, has sparked a new one with derogatory comments denigrating the mentally disabled in a news article about January’s insurrection at the Capitol.
Watkins represents Jacob A. Chansley, a man who entered the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 while wearing fur and horns on his head.
Watkins has already claimed that former President Donald J. Trump duped gullible followers with his false claims of election fraud. In a Talking Points Memo article on Tuesday he added comments mocking Trump supporters by comparing them to those with mental disabilities.
Watkins spoke later with the Post-Dispatch and declined to apologize for language that brought online anger and criticism, but acknowledged that the comments were vulgar and inappropriate. He said they were a calculated effort to draw attention to the mental health of Chansley and others. “My civil pleas for attention to this issue ... have fallen on deaf ears,” he said, adding that once he used words that “literally make people’s jaws drop in disgust,” he got calls from Reuters, CNN, Newsmax and others.
Watkins said Chansley is on the autism spectrum and defendants like him are being held in jail, often in isolation due to coronavirus protocols. Chansley was a follower of QAnon conspiracy theories who goes by the name “QAnon Shaman.”
Watkins is used to controversial clients or controversial stances and legal strategies. He unapologetically basks in the resulting media attention.
He unsuccessfully demanded a pardon for Chansley before Trump left office. And Watkins issued an apology on behalf of his client, later hinting that Chansley would cooperate with prosecutors. He also arranged a “60 Minutes” interview with Chansley, causing a judge to say that Watkins misled jailers about the interview. A threatening letter containing white powder triggered a hazmat response to Watkins’ office in January.
Chansley, one of four accused Capitol rioters represented by Watkins, has pleaded not guilty to two felony and four misdemeanor charges stemming from his involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol breach.