Prosecutors refute claims Tucker Carlson’s airing of security footage exonerates Jan. 6 defendants
(CNN) — Federal prosecutors on Sunday pushed back against claims that a video of so-called “QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley that was shown by Fox News’s Tucker Carlson exonerated anyone in the mob at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
In court filings Sunday, federal prosecutors said that video did not show Chansley, who was sentenced to 41 months in prison for his actions on January 6, facing off with officers for half an hour outside the Senate chamber or when Chansley refused to be escorted out of the Capitol by an officer and only left after being forcibly removed.
The prosecutors were responding to a request to throw out the case against five members of the Proud Boys for their alleged actions on and around January 6. Defense attorney Roger Roots, who represents Dominic Pezzola, had asked the judge to throw out the case — citing Carlon’s clips of Chansley walking around parts of the Capitol with officers, calling the video “exculpatory.”
“Chansley was not some passive, chaperoned observer of events for the roughly hour that he was unlawfully inside the Capitol,” prosecutors wrote. “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 (obviously, precluding any Senate business from occurring); and he gained access to and later left the Senate floor only after law enforcement was able to arrive en masse to remove him.”
Addressing the video Carlson played of Chansley walking with officers in the building, prosecutors wrote that “it is true that a sole officer, who was trying to de-escalate the situation, was with Chansley as he made his way to the Senate floor after initially breaching the Chamber.”
“But the televised footage fails to show that Chansley subsequently refused to be escorted out by this lone officer and instead left the Capitol only after additional officers arrived and forcibly escorted him out,” prosecutors say.
A former attorney for Chansley, Albert Watkins, previously told CNN that he had never seen the footage Carlson played of his client.
Prosecutors say that apart from 10 seconds that “implicated an evacuation route,” the rest of the video played by Carlson was released to Pezzola and Chansley by September 24, 2021, and the additional 10 seconds were released to all January 6 defendants on January 23, 2023.
Chansley pleaded guilty to obstructing an official proceeding in late 2021.