QAnon shaman Jacob Chansley sentenced to 41 months in prison for Jan. 6 Capitol riot case

  • "QAnon shaman" Jacob Chansley, one of the most notorious figures of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, was sentenced Wednesday to three years and five months in prison for his role in the invasion of the halls of Congress by a horde of Trump supporters.
  • Chansley, who has been held without bail since his arrest in January, pleaded guilty in September to a single criminal count of obstructing a proceeding of Congress.
  • Chansley was shirtless, wielding a spear, wearing face paint and a fur hat with horns when he walked into the Capitol complex with thousands of others, disrupting the confirmation by a joint session of Congress of Joe Biden's victory in the presidential election.

"QAnon shaman" Jacob Chansley, one of the most notorious figures of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, was sentenced Wednesday to three years and five months in prison for his role in the invasion of the halls of Congress by a horde of Trump supporters.

"What you did was terrible," said Judge Royce Lamberth in federal court in Washington, D.C., even as he called Chansley's stated remorse for his crime genuine.

"What you did was so serious that I cannot justify a" sentence lower than what was suggested by federal sentencing guidelines," Lamberth said.

But Chanlsey's sentence was on the low end of the range of 41 months to 51 months in prison that were suggested by those guidelines.

However, it also is tied for the longest sentence issued to date for any of the Capitol riot defendants who have pleaded guilty.

"I was wrong for entering the Capitol. I have no excuse. No excuse whatsoever," Chansley told Lamberth. "The behavior is indefensible."

Prosecutors said Chansley was among the first 30 rioters to enter a Capitol building on Jan. 6.

The 34-year-old Phoenix, Arizona, resident, who had been an adherent of the bogus QAnon conspiracy theory, pleaded guilty in September to a single criminal count of obstructing a proceeding of Congress. He will get credit for his time served in jail since his arrest in January.

Prosecutors had asked Lamberth to sentence the U.S. Navy veteran to 51 months behind bars, saying his conduct was deeply troubling, and that such a sentence would serve as a warning to others who would seek to interfere with the peaceful transfer of the presidential office in the future.

During Wednesday's hearing, Kimberly Paschall, a prosecutor, played a video of Chansley howling while inside Congress to underscore the severity of his actions on Jan. 6.

"Time's up you motherf—- !" Chansley shouted.

Paschall, referring to the video, told Lamberth:"Your honor, that is chilling."

Chansley's lawyer asked for a sentence below the federal guidelines, citing the defendant's "sincere remorse for the his conduct," and the mental illness which has plagued him for years.

Chansley cited lessons from Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and the Stephen King prison movie "The Shawshank Redemption," in rambling comments before he was sentenced.

"I am truly, truly repentant of my actions," he said.

But he said he was not a violent man, much less a "domestic terrorist," as he admitted his crime.

"I broke the law, and if I believe in freedom, and if I believe in law and order, and I believe in responsibility, then I should do what Gandhi would do, and take responsibility," he said.

"I hope that you see my heart and my desire to live the life of Christ or Gandhi," Chansley told Lamberth.

"I make this holy vow and this sacred oath, I will never re-offend again," he added.

The judge said, "I think your remarks are the most remarkable I've heard in 34 years" of serving on the federal bench.

"I think you are genuinely remorseful," Lamberth said. "Some of those remarks are the kind that Martin Luther King would say"

Last week, another rioter, former New Jersey gym owner Scott Fairlamb was sentenced by Lamberth to 41 months in prison for assaulting a police officer.

Chansley was the first Capitol riot defendant to be indicted. Since then, more than 600 other people have been criminally charged in connection with the insurrection.

The tattooed Chansley was shirtless, wielding a spear, wearing face paint and a fur hat with horns when he walked into the Capitol complex with thousands of other people. The mob disrupted a joint session of Congress as lawmakers confirmed President Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election.

Then-President Donald Trump urged Republican lawmakers to vote against confirming Biden's win, and called on his supporters to march to the Capitol to promote that effort.

Photos and videos of Chansley in his bizarre garb went viral the day of the riot, and were widely published in the weeks afterward.

"He made himself the image of the riot, didn't he?" Lamberth asked Chansley's lawyer Albert Watkins on Wednesday.

Watkins agreed Chansley had done so.

Chansley was one of a number of rioters who entered the Senate chamber, where then-Vice President Mike Pence minutes before was presiding over proceedings.

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Prosecutors said Chansley sat in Pence's seat on the dais. They said he refused an order by a police officer to leave, instead "calling other rioters up to the dais and leading them in an incantation over his bullhorn."

Chansley left a note on the dais, which said, "It's Only a Matter of Time. Justice is Coming," and called Pence a "f—ing traitor."

Watkins argued Wednesday that his client was neither a planner or organizer of the riot.

Reuters reported in July that Chansley, who is also known as Jacob Angeli, was in plea negotiations with prosecutors after prison psychologists diagnosed him as suffering from mental illnesses including transient schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety.

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