Judge denies bid by ‘QAnon Shaman’ to toss out Jan. 6 conviction

The Hill/July 20, 2023

By Ella Lee

A federal judge Thursday denied a bid by Jan. 6 rioter Jacob Chansley — better known as the “QAnon Shaman” — to vacate his conviction in light of footage from the Capitol that day aired by ex-Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

Chansley, who stood out from the Jan. 6 crowd for wearing face paint and a horned headdress during the riot, pleaded guilty to obstruction and was sentenced in November 2021 to 41 months in prison.

But in March 2023, Carlson aired footage of Chansley that showed him walking in the Capitol unimpeded by a group of officers who followed him — footage he claimed was exonerating.

William Shipley, Chansley’s attorney, argued in a motion to vacate his conviction that the footage “would have been favorable to Mr. Chansley at sentencing.”

But U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth strongly refuted those assertions in his decision to deny the motion.

“In fact, without Mr. Chansley’s apparently unequivocal acceptance of responsibility, the Court is confident that he would have received a higher sentence,” Lamberth wrote.

Lamberth also blasted Carlson’s “ill-advised” program that day, which he said was “replete with misstatements and misrepresentations” about the Capitol riot. Carlson also questioned the court’s integrity and the legitimacy of the U.S. criminal justice system as a whole with “cherry-picked videos stripped of their proper context,” the federal judge said.

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“In so doing, he called on his followers to ‘reject the evidence of [their] eyes and ears,’ language resembling the destructive, misguided rhetoric that fueled the events of January 6 in the first place,” Lamberth wrote.

“The Court finds it alarming that the host’s viewers throughout the nation so readily heeded his command,” he continued. “But this Court cannot and will not reject the evidence before it.”

Chansley was released from federal prison early and transferred to a halfway house in March.

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