May 19, 2024

Judge Blocks ‘QAnon Shaman’ From Withdrawing Guilty Plea

A federal judge has granted a request by convicted Capitol rioter Jacob Chansley – also known as the “QAnon Shaman” – to withdraw his guilty plea based on a Tucker Carlson broadcast that he claimed showed defamatory footage.

In a 35-page ruling Thursday, Judge Royce C. Lamberth expressed disappointment with Chansley’s “face” and reiterated that there is still plenty of evidence to support his conviction for obstruction of Congress during the 2021 Capitol attack – even if this evidence was “conveniently omitted” in Carlson’s previous Fox News program. (Carlson has since been fired from the network.)

“This Court cannot and will not reject the evidence before it. Neither should the public,” the judge wrote.

Jacob Chansley, known as the “QAnon Shaman,” screams “Freedom” inside the US Senate chamber after the US Capitol was overrun by a mob during a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021. Chansley later pleaded guilty to obstruction of Congress.

Win McNamee via Getty Images

Chansley asked to throw out his plea shortly after the March airing of Carlson’s Fox News appearance that demanded new video evidence be shown from the Capitol. The evidence showed that Chansley and other rioters were acting like peaceful “spectators” who “went” over to the Capitol and were greeted by security. Carlson alleged that the film undermined the legitimacy of the government’s prosecution of Chansley and others.

“These videos are certainly not exempt, especially when viewed in context with the ‘thousands and thousands and thousands of footage’ recorded of Mr. Chanceley on January 6, 2021,” Lamberth fired back.

“Such footage, conveniently omitted from the March 6, 2023 program, shows nearly every action Mr. Chanceley took that day, including: carrying a six-foot pole armed with a spearhead, trespassing into the Capitol through a broken door, evading orders from law enforcement on more than half a dozen occasions, yelling at the Vice President in the Senate, yelling at Sen. said in the Senate chambers. , and leaving a threatening message for the Vice President,” he continued.

US Capitol Police officers confront Chancellor outside the Senate chamber on January 6, 2021.
US Capitol Police officers confront Chancellor outside the Senate chamber on January 6, 2021.

Lamberth said none of the footage aired on Carlson’s program contained new facts and evidence, as Carlson claimed. Chansley also did not explain how any part of his expulsion would be for the charge he pleaded guilty to: obstructing an official proceeding.

“This is probably because he can’t do this show,” Lamberth said.

The judge also tore up the integrity of Carlson’s program as it was now.

“Not only was the broadcast full of misstatements and misrepresentations regarding the events of January 6, 2021 too many to count, the host explicitly questioned the integrity of this Court – not to mention the legitimacy of the entire US criminal justice system with the inflammatory characteristics of the cherry-picked videos taken out of their proper context,” he wrote.

He said Carlson told his audience to “reject evidence [their] eyes and ears,” which the judge noted was language similar to the “destructive, misleading rhetoric that fueled the events of January 6 in the first place.”

Chansley yells inside the Senate chamber.  The riots disrupted a joint session of Congress to confirm then-President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.
Chansley yells inside the Senate chamber. The riots disrupted a joint session of Congress to confirm then-President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

Win McNamee via Getty Images

Chansley’s attorney, William Shipley, said he does not expect his client to appeal.

“Jake has moved on, and I think he will close this door behind him now,” he said in a statement. posted to Twitter.

Chansley pleaded guilty in 2021 to obstruction of official proceedings, in exchange for the dismissal of five other charges pending against him. He completed his prison sentence in March.

In his plea agreement, he said he was pleading guilty to the count because he was “guilty in fact”. He also apologized in court and said he wanted to take responsibility for his actions, “because repentance is just saying you’re sorry.”

Lamberth had said he was disturbed by Chansley’s apology, and as a result Chansley received 41 months in prison – the minimum sentence in the guideline – with credit for time served.

“You certainly did everything you can today to convince the Court that you are a new person, and I think you are on the right track,” Lamberth told him at the time.

The judge in his ruling Thursday noted that if Chansley had not taken the plea deal, he likely would have received a harsher sentence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *