On Jan. 6, Donald Trump took advantage of a phalanx of weak-minded sheep to do his bidding, sending them into the fray at the Capitol while he cooled his bone-spurred heels in the safety of his KFC-redolent villain’s lair.

That’s not my assessment. Except for the KFC part, that’s basically the argument made by the lawyer for Jacob Chansley, the sartorially confused crackpot who calls (or rather called) himself the “Q Shaman,” and who helped storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 during Mr. Choad’s Wild Ride

In a Talking Points Memo story about Capitol insurrectionists’ attempts to use the so-called “Trump defense” (i.e., blaming Borg Spleen Donny for commandeering their brains prior to the Capitol assault), Chansley’s lawyer, Albert Watkins, highlighted what he saw as Trump’s integral role his client’s actions while (rather insultingly) demeaning his client’s mental acuity.

Watkins’ attempts to exculpate his client by pointing to Trump’s obscene behavior didn’t work initially. Judge Royce C. Lamberth dismissed the argument in March when determining whether Chansley should remain in jail before his trial. Yet Watkins still thinks he’ll be able to finagle a less harsh sentence in light of Trump’s Machiavellian schemes.

From Talking Points Memo:

“Legally, these are unprecedented cases,” Chansley’s attorney, Albert Watkins, told TPM last week. “And as a result, while the judge may not be compelled to emotionally embrace, as a matter of opinion, the effect or the impact of the words and actions of the former President as being a cause, there is going to necessarily be a legal compulsion to address that reality as part of an evaluation of culpability.”

That’s much tamer than what Watkins said after noting that Chansley has Asperger’s syndrome. In an offensive, ableist rant that we won’t repeat, Watkins claimed that Trump’s propaganda efforts had held enormous sway over Chansley’s mental state, as well as that of his fellow Capitol-storming zealots—mental states which Watkins describes in no uncertain terms as feeble.

“But they’re our brothers, our sisters, our neighbors, our coworkers — they’re part of our country. These aren’t bad people, they don’t have prior criminal history. Fuck, they were subjected to four-plus years of goddamn propaganda the likes of which the world has not seen since fucking Hitler.”

Yes. Yes, they were.

I’m not terribly sympathetic to these arguments. These are adults who allowed themselves to be snookered by a guy who ran a fake university and claimed he’d magically eliminate the entire U.S. debt in eight years. They’re not bright people—and most of them still walk among us. 

The “Trump made me do it” defense, while it may be legally suspect, does still ring true to a great extent. But it’s hardly an excuse for what they did.

Another lawyer, who claimed his client suffered from “Foxitis,” had a similar take.

One particularly remorseful defendant, Anthony Antonio, was sick with a novel disease, “Foxitis,” when he entered the Capitol through a broken window on Jan. 6, his attorney Joe Hurley argued during an initial appearance earlier this month.

[…]

The “Foxitis” remark, he said later, “is not a defense — it’s pointing the finger of accusation where it belongs: to the slithery snake.”

These are bad excuses. I mean, I didn’t trash ABC Television Studios when the network stopped airing Eight Is Enough reunion specials. Then again, no one was telling me it was actually the highest-rated, most critically acclaimed TV show in the history of broadcasting, or that Willie Aames knew more about viruses than the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

That said, we all know who the biggest villain in this whole mess is. Unfortunately, few had the courage to convict that guy.

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