U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth on Thursday rejected a bid by Jacob Chansley, the January 6 rioter known as the “QAnon Shaman,” to throw out his conviction.
Chansley was sentenced to 41 months behind bars in November, two months after he pleaded guilty to the federal charge of obstructing a federal proceeding—that being Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 President Election victory over Donald Trump.
He argued to Lamberth that his conviction should be tossed based on videos aired in February by then-Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
Lamberth countered that the videos aired by Carlson, which showed Chansley roaming the halls of the Capitol, occasionally alongside outnumbered Capitol Police officers, were devoid of meaningful context, especially when contrasted with the extraordinary volume of evidence of Chansley’s crimes.
The Department of Justice noted in a complaint that accompanied Chansley’s arrest warrant that Chansley had been identified as the individual who entered the Capitol building on January 6, 2021 “dressed in horns, a bearskin headdress, red, white and blue face paint, shirtless, and tan pants” and “carried a spear, approximately 6 feet in length, with an American flag tied just below the blade.”
The complaint adds that on January 7, 2021, Chansley called in to the FBI’s Washington Field Office to voluntarily speak with law enforcement, during which time he stated that he came to Washington “at the request of the President [Trump] that all ‘patriots’ come to D.C. on January 6, 2021.”
While inside the Capitol building, Chansley strode onto the rostrum in the U.S. Senate chamber and wrote a note to then-Vice President Pence, who had only moments earlier presided over the Senate at that very position. The note said, “It’s only a matter of time. Justice is coming!”
Further, prosecutors said Chansley took pictures of himself on the Senate rostrum and refused to vacate the seat when he was asked to do so by law enforcement. Instead, he stated that “Mike Pence is a f***ing traitor.”
Pence, then-president of the Senate, had been 40 feet from the mob when he fled from rioters inside the Capitol building, shouting, “Hang Mike Pence!”
Noting Chansley’s guilty plea, Judge Lamberth wrote, “Without Mr. Chansley’s apparently unequivocal acceptance of responsibility, the Court is confident that he would have received a higher sentence.”
Further, Lamberth called Tucker Carlson’s use of Capitol security footage—which House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had given exclusively to the TV host—“ill-advised.”
“Not only was the broadcast replete with misstatements and misrepresentations regarding the events of January 6, 2021 too numerous to count, the host explicitly questioned the integrity of this Court—not to mention the legitimacy of the entire U.S. criminal justice system—with inflammatory characterizations of cherry-picked videos stripped of their proper context,” Lamberth wrote.
He added that “this Court cannot and will not reject the evidence before it. Nor should the public.”
Four people died during the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, and five police officers died of various causes following the attack.