Justice Department shoots down claims that Tucker Carlson footage of QAnon Shaman exonerates Jan 6 rioters

Federal prosecutors have shot down any suggestion that footage aired on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News programme has in any way exonerated the so-called QAnon Shaman who joined a mob that stormed the halls of the US Capitol on January 6.

Jacob Chansley was sentenced to 41 months in prison after he was convicted of a felony count of obstructing an official proceeding before Congress.

A 10-page court filing from the US Department of Justice on 12 March argues that Carlson showed only four minutes of Chansley’s time inside the Capitol, omitting the fact that he breached a police barricade, followed a mob that broke windows and doors to gain entry, and faced off against US Capitol Police officers for more than 30 minutes outside the Senate chamber as lawmakers and then-Vice President Mike Pence made their escape.

Federal prosecutors were responding to a request from an attorney for charges of seditious conspiracy against members of the far-right gang the Proud Boys. An attorney for Dominic Pezzola, who is allegedly seen on tape using a stolen police riot shield to break into the building, has argued that footage aired on Carlson’s programme showing Chansley walking inside the Capitol with officers was “exculpatory”.

“Chansley was not some passive, chaperoned observer of events for the roughly hour that he was unlawfully inside the Capitol,” prosecutors replied.

“He was part of the initial breach of the building; he confronted law enforcement for roughly 30 minutes just outside the Senate Chamber; he gained access to the gallery of the Senate along with other members of the mob … and he gained access to and later left the Senate floor only after law enforcement was able to arrive en masse to remove him,” prosecutors wrote.

Carlson aired only a few minutes of footage of Chansley’s interactions inside the Capitol, including footage of police officers appearing to follow him. But Chansley only left the Capitol after a group of US Capitol Police officers who were called to the scene could forcibly remove him, prosecutors said.

The Fox News personality also falsely claimed that there is a “dispute” over how Chansley entered the Capitol, though extensive video footage shows him entering the building less than a minute after windows and doors were kicked and bashed open to let the mob inside.

Newly selected Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy provided the footage to Carlson as part of his apparent gambit to win the speaker’s gavel, after Carlson demanded that Mr McCarthy release “the January 6 files.”

“All of it,” Mr Carlson said in January. “So that the rest of us can finally know what actually happened.”

At least 1,000 people were arrested in connection with the attack, fuelled in part by Donald Trump’s baseless narrative that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

Roughly one-third of all defendants are charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding law enforcement, including more than 100 people charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious injury to an officer. Approximately 140 officers with the US Capitol Police and Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police Department were injured. Two undetonated pipe bombs were also discovered at nearby locations, and a suspect wanted in connection has still not been identified.

Carlson, one of the most-watched cable personalities in the US, has been widely derided for his attempts to downplay the attack and falsely characterise a violent attempt to upend the results of a democratic election as a peaceful gathering.

US Capitol Police chief Thomas Manger said Carlson “fails to provide context” in programming that provides “offensive and misleading conclusions” surrounding the attack.”