Jan. 6 footage shows DOJ, court focused on Shaman’s costume, not crime
Fox’s Tucker Carson this week aired the long-awaited release of previously unknown footage from the Jan. 6 riots.
The first installment of the videotapes reveals major concerns over previous claims by January 6 committee members.
Yet the most serious revelations, in my view, relate to the case of “QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chanceley.
I have previously objected to the heavy sentence given to Chanceley.
The new footage raises more questions about the Justice Department and the court’s handling of the case.
After the Republican Party boycotted the committee after it rejected its proposed members, the committee could have tried to offer balanced scrutiny.
Instead, it hired a former ABC producer to launch a production for television, which included heavily scripted statements and questions.
Witnesses were used as virtual props, and the committee consistently blocked any alternative views and evidence.
Members repeatedly used the hearing to make a pitch for the midterm and 2024 elections.
Even the The New York Times accepted the narrative meant “recasting the midterm message” and “giving [Democrats] A platform to make a comprehensive case about why they deserve to be in power.”
I supported the formation of the committee, and I was very critical of President Donald Trump’s comments before the riots.
Indeed, I publicly condemned Trump’s speech as it was being delivered, and I called for a bipartisan vote of censure on his responsibility for the riots.
I also received deeply disturbing testimonies from respected public servants who opposed the violence and boycott of elections.
The committee sacrificed its legitimacy by holding hearings that often sounded more like show trials than an objective congressional investigation. It could have been so much more.
But Chanceley’s footage was the most disturbing.
I have supported the prosecution of those who rioted on January 6. As I said immediately after the riots, this was an affront to our constitutional process.
Yet many of us were shocked that Chanceley was sentenced to 41 months for “obstructing federal proceedings.”
The sentence is greater than that imposed for violent crimes. Indeed, an Antifa member who took an ax to a member’s office in Fargo, ND was later given probation … and his ax returned.
I also objected to the Justice Department’s heavy-handedness in keeping figures like Chanceley in solitary confinement for long periods of time without any apparent justification.
We knew that Chanceley was not shown to be involved in violence or destruction of property. In the footage, however, Chanceley was shown walking through a door along with hundreds of others but was ushered out of the Capitol by some officers.
Officials are seen helping him gain access to interior areas.
He walks past a dozen armed officers who don’t try to stop him. He is even seen thanking the authorities for their assistance.
It is not clear whether the defendant had access to all of these videotapes. Of course, these tapes are the exact opposite of what was presented in court.
The Justice Department characterized Chanceley as a violent offender. Prosecutor Kimberly Paschal played video to show Chansley yelling with the crowd. “It’s not peaceful,” he insisted.
In his sentencing, Judge Royce Lamberth noted, “He made himself a riot figure, didn’t he? For better or worse, he has made himself the epitome of this whole phenomenon. “
I have a lot of respect for Lamberth, but the sentence was hard to justify, especially when compared to the other defendants.
A Navy veteran, Chanceley had no prior criminal record and pleaded guilty. His case became increasingly embarrassing as his personality disorder and other emotional issues surfaced. He stood up to Lamberth and pleaded that “there was a lot of bad juju that I should never have made.”
Yet none of these mitigating factors seemed to count for much.
I agree with Lamberth that the attack on our constitutional process warrants longer than average sentences for Chancely and others. However, there appears to be a unique “aggravating factor” in Chansley’s sentencing for “iconic costuming”.
An out-of-work actor, Chanceley became an instant sensation, appearing in his animal headdress, horns and red-white-and-blue face paint.
If he had just worn a mega hat and chinos, he might have been given a fraction of that punishment.
Chancellor did not appear to be the leader of any group that day as he strolled through the Capitol. The only people with him were often two present and prominent Capital Police officers.
On the Senate floor, he is described as “chanting an unknown mantra” before leaving.
Chanceley confirmed the old expression among defense attorneys: “On the cover of time one day, doing time the next.” This is a price that comes from being a famous shaman.
Once again, Chanceley and any rioters deserve jail time. What happened on January 6 was a disgrace that is an eternal scar for this nation.
But making an example of Chanceley because he was the most visible is dangerously different from his underlying conduct.
I have no particular sympathy for Chanceley, but I do have concerns for the system that punished him.
In the end, justice has to remain blind. In this case, that means focusing on the crime rather than the costume.