The pro-Trump participant in the attacks on the Capitol building earlier this month who wore face paint, fur and horns is signaling he is willing to testify during the Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.
The lawyer for Jacob Chansley, Al Watkins, said his client is ready to openly testify that as an ardent follower of Trump, he was inspired by the former president’s words to come to Washington, D.C., and to take part in the January 6 melee.
Watkins said he has not yet discussed the matter of his client’s involvement in the trial with any Senators, the Associated Press reported. Trump’s impeachment trial is set to begin on February 9.
Chansley was “horrendously smitten” by Trump, Watkins said. But after seeking and failing to obtain a pardon from the former president for his role in the breach of the Capitol, Chansley appears to have had a change of heart, and is now willing to speak before the Senate when the trial commences.
Two weeks ago, Watkins suggested that his client deserved a presidential pardon from Trump, arguing that the former president had clearly influenced Chansley and others to come to Washington, D.C., to try and interfere with the certification of President Joe Biden’s legitimate election victory in November.
“My client had heard the oft-repeated words of President Trump,” Watkins said earlier this month. “The words and invitation of a president are supposed to mean something.”
However, the possibility of testifying Trump’s impeachment trial is starting to look unlikely for Chansley. Several Democratic senators have indicated that they want a fast and speedy trial in order to deal with other legislative matters, including confirming Biden’s executive branch nominees and passing a COVID-19 economic relief package.
“We have to hold President Trump accountable, and then we also have to balance that with the public’s number one demand, which is COVID relief,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) recently said.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) has also expressed a desire to act quickly on the impeachment trial. “I would hope that we deal with that as quickly as possible to start addressing the needs of working families,” he said this week.
Other senators, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), have suggested that witnesses aren’t required, as the events of January 6 took place while everyone taking part in the impeachment trial were at the Capitol.
“We will all watch what happened. We will listen to what happened, and then we will vote,” Schumer said in comments made earlier this week.
“A lot of us were witnesses to what took place,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) said. “There’s been enormous press coverage. If you don’t know what happened that day, you really haven’t been paying attention. So I think there is the prospect, at least, of quite a rapid trial.”
Trump is the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice during his tenure. His first impeachment trial lasted 21 days.
Democratic House managers who are in charge of presenting the case to indict Trump in the Senate trial are debating on whether there will be any witnesses at all, according to reporting from CNN earlier this week. Rather than calling witnesses, they may instead choose to focus on video evidence showcasing Trump’s incitement of a mob of supporters to attack the Capitol, and highlight his tweets from weeks before the breach that encouraged his supporters to come to Washington.