Elon Musk thought it was unfair to jail the 'QAnon Shaman' who broke into the Capitol, but the DOJ says none of the footage was withheld and Tucker Carlson only showed 4 minutes of it
- A Proud Boy wants to dismiss his seditious-conspiracy case based on Tucker Carlson's Jan. 6 footage.
- The DOJ responded on Sunday that all of the footage was already provided during discovery.
Elon Musk called for the release of Jacob Chansley — better known as the "QAnon Shaman" — after Tucker Carlson aired surveillance footage of the January 6 riot and suggested there was some miscarriage of justice by jailing the Capitol rioter. The Justice Department begs to differ.
In a 10-page court filing submitted Sunday, the DOJ said none of Carlson's footage — with the exception of 10 seconds of video that "implicated an evacuation route" — was withheld during the discovery process in Chansley's case. The department added that the footage aired on Carlson's show last week was taken out of context and that it only contained four minutes of video showing Chansley.
The court filing was in response to a motion by attorneys representing Proud Boys member Dominic Pezzola, who is being charged with seditious conspiracy.
Pezzola's lawyers argued the "shocking" Carlson footage was "plainly exculpatory; as it establishes that the Senate chamber was never violently breached," and accused federal prosecutors of withholding footage.
Chansley's former attorney, Albert Watkins, also said that he had not seen the footage aired on Carlson's show, The Washington Post reported.
The DOJ, in its filing, retorted that the footage was "not shocking, and it was not withheld from Pezzola (or Chansley, in any material respect, for that matter)."
The department said the televised footage only showed Chansley's movements from around 2:56 p.m. to 3 p.m., leaving out the moments Chansley breached a police line around 2:09 p.m., entered the Capitol building, and "faced off" with Capitol police members "for more than thirty minutes in front of the Senate Chamber doors while elected officials, including the Vice President of the United States, were fleeing from the chamber," the filing stated.
"Chansley then entered the Senate Gallery, where he proceeded to scream obscenities while other rioters rifled through the desks of US Senators," the DOJ wrote.
In a statement to Insider, Watkins said "the assertion was erroneous."
"In the weeks prior to the plea repeated requests were made to make sure we had all the video footage," Watkins wrote in an email. "In response, (Assistant US Attorney Kimberly Paschall) produced a number of videos, some of which were produced just prior to the plea, necessitating an in-person visit with Jake where he was confined to show him the footage prior to finalizing his decision to enter into the plea deal."
He added that the court was "not aware of this footage" and wanted to note that Chansley was diagnosed with "a mental health issue of significance fifteen years" before the day of the riot.
The DOJ filing stated that all of the footage was provided in discovery to Pezzola and Chansley by September 24, 2021, which is about three weeks after Chansley pled guilty but more than a month before he was sentenced to 41 months in prison in November.
Lawyers for Pezzola did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Several outlets, including The Associated Press and Politifact, have noted that Carlson left out critical context during his segment. But that hasn't deterred Republican pundits and leaders from claiming that the footage somehow exonerates the rioters.
"Jacob Chansley deserves a retrial," Marjorie Taylor Greene said on Twitter. "All he did was nonviolently walk through the Capital wearing a costume while being escorted by Capital Police."
Musk also chimed in and said that, although he's "not part of MAGA," he does "believe in fairness of justice" and wrote on Twitter to "Free Jacob Chansley."
—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 11, 2023
Musk did not return a request for comment. "Our team's review of available surveillance footage of Mr. Chansley is consistent with our reporting," Tucker Carlson Tonight senior executive producer Justin Wells said in a statement.
Some Republicans condemned Carlson's portrayal of the January 6 attack.
After Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger said in a letter that Carlson was spreading "offensive and misleading conclusions," Sen. Mitch McConnell on Tuesday told reporters he wanted to "associate myself entirely with the opinion of the chief of the Capitol Police about what happened on January 6."
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