A man on trial for his role in the January 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol claimed in his virtual defense testimony on Monday that he was operating on “divine” authority and that the government has no jurisdiction to punish him.

Defendant James Beeks, a Michael Jackson impersonator who played Judas in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Jesus Christ Superstar prior to his arrest last week, told Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. that he is “an American standing under public law and I am hereby special divine appearance.”

Beeks carried a shield and wore a Michael Jackson tour jacket while joining the Oath Keepers in attacking the Capitol.

Beeks had initially refused to accept counsel from two defense attorneys who were on the call waiting to assist him. When Howell asked Beeks if he preferred to represent himself, he responded that “I cannot represent myself because I am myself. I reserve all rights at all times and waive none, ever.”

Howell was not amused. “That’s all gobbledygook. I have no idea what you’re saying,” he replied.

The judge was also perplexed by affidavits submitted by Beeks that suggested he believed he was a “sovereign citizen” to whom laws do not apply. But Beeks denied that was the case.

“I’m not a sovereign citizen. There’s no such thing. That’s an oxymoron and it’s even an insult,” he said.

Howell, unconvinced, explained that “a defendant who objects to the jurisdiction of the court rejects being subject to the laws of the United States, who objects to the rule of law, is typically not released pretrial.”

Howell eventually released Beeks with GPS monitoring after his lawyers convinced him to cooperate with the court.

Read more about:

Get the free uPolitics mobile app for the latest political news and videos

iPhone Android