Over the past two evenings Tucker Carlson has devoted segments to the case of Jacob Chansley, the QAnon Shaman. He decries Chansley’s wrongful conviction for his actions on January 6 and asserts that the previously suppressed video he has broadcast establishes Chansley’s innocence. Chansley’s conviction is portrayed as an injustice akin to the Dreyfus case. I have posted video of last night’s segment below.
In the introduction to last night’s segment Tucker summarized Wednesday evening’s segment (which I wrote about here yesterday): “So last night we talked to a lawyer [Albert Watkins] who represented January 6 defendant Jacob Chansley, the so-called QAnon Shaman. The lawyer told us the government, the prosecutors in this case, in violation of the Constitution hid exculpatory evidence from him and the defense in order to send Jacob Chansley to prison for four years, where he is tonight.”
Tucker added: “The tape proves conclusively that Jacob Chansley, whose every action inside the building was videotaped, committed no felony and the government hid that fact…” Tucker continued in this vein: “Well, now we know that the Biden administration created that perception that this man should be killed and then broke the law specifically to destroy the life of American citizen and naval veteran Jacob Chansley.”
That was by way of introduction to interviews with Jacob Chansley’s mother and William Shipley (“Chansley’s attorney”). I thought it might be worth adding these notes to last night’s segment for readers who may want fuller understanding or additional context.
• As of night four of Tucker’s January 6 series this week, he has yet to identify the crime of which Chansley was unjustly convicted or to acknowledge that Chansley pled guilty to the offense.
• The government has posted the relevant documents here. Chansley’s plea agreement is posted here. The statement of offense in support of Chansley’s guilty plea is posted here. Chansley and his then attorney Albert Watkins executed both documents.
• The actions supporting Chansley’s conviction are set forth in the statement of offense at paragraphs 5-19. Chansley agreed with the facts set forth.
• I don’t see anything in the videos Tucker has broadcast that belies the statement of offense. As I say, Tucker hasn’t bothered to mention the offense or explore the underlying facts to which Chansley agreed. I think those are significant omissions. They make it impossible to develop an informed understanding of the case.
• Albert Watkins represented Chansley through sentencing. Chansley has apparently dismissed Watkins as his attorney. Tucker didn’t mention that either when he interviewed Watkins on Wednesday evening.
• The fact of Chansley’s guilty plea (to an unidentified offense) slipped out in Shipley’s comments last night. Tucker did not follow up.
• Shipley implied that Chansley’s guilty plea resulted from ineffective assistance of counsel (i.e., Albert Watkins) and stated that he is exploring creative means to attack the conviction resulting from Chansley’s guilty plea. This would mean that the guilty plea was the fault of Watkins.
• Chansley pleaded guilty in September 2021. Shipley has represented Chansley since late 2021. He hasn’t yet formally attacked Chansley’s conviction.
• Paragraph IX.E. (page 7) of Chansley’s plea agreement limits Chansley’s rights to attack his guilty plea “collaterally” in a new proceeding rather than an appeal.
• Shipley noted that the plea agreement allows Chansley the right to attack his plea collaterally for ineffective assistance of counsel.
• The plea agreement also allows Chansley to attack his conviction on the ground of “newly discovered evidence.” Shipley did not mention this provision. Maybe he doesn’t think the videos Tucker has broadcast constitute “newly discovered evidence” undermining Chansley’s conviction.
• The government’s obligation to disclose evidence (so-called Brady material) arises fully in connection with trial. When a defendant pleads guilty, he is not entitled to all the material he would get at trial (which may not even be known to the prosecutor at the time of the plea). Defense counsel can try to demand it, but sometimes a favorable plea (which Chansley may well have thought this was) is contingent on the government not having to make discovery — that’s a big part of the reason for offering favorable terms.
• As I say above, I don’t see exculpatory evidence in the videos Tucker has broadcast. I see some contradiction of the Democrat/media January 6 narrative, but not of the offense of obstructing Congress. Unless it was agreed that Chansley’s lawyer would receive all conceivable Brady material prior to the plea — and Shipley expressly stated to Tucker that this was not the case — I don’t see any legal or ethical misconduct on the part of the government.
• If Chansley went to trial, he would be convicted of additional offenses and be sentenced to significantly more than 41 months. What’s going on here is posturing. Nothing in the video alters that. That is why Shipley’s comments in the interview last night are so far from Tucker’s righteous indignation. Indeed, in my view, they are weak tea.
• Tucker persists and concludes: “This is just an open-and-shut travesty as far as I’m concerned.”
• I’m beginning to get the idea that Tucker-doesn’t understand the case. Taking into account all the facts stated above, I think Tucker is in over his head on this matter.