Fact Check: NO Evidence Jacob Chansley, The 'QAnon Shaman,' Was Led Through Capitol By Police Entire Time He Was In Building On Jan. 6, 2021

Fact Check

  • by: Dana Ford
Fact Check: NO Evidence Jacob Chansley, The 'QAnon Shaman,' Was Led Through Capitol By Police Entire Time He Was In Building On Jan. 6, 2021 Pleaded Guilty

Was Jacob Chansley, aka the "QAnon Shaman," led through the Capitol by police the entire time he was in the building on January 6, 2021? No, there's no evidence that's true: Chansley broke into the building, where he ignored repeated requests to leave and was -- at least for a time -- alone, according to court documents, some video footage and statements from Capitol Police.

The claim appeared in an Instagram post on March 6, 2023. The post included video and text that claimed:

BREAKING: Never before seen video of January 6 shows Jacob Chansley, the QAnon Shaman, being led through the Capitol by police the entire time that he was in the building.

This is what the post looked like at the time of writing:

image - 2023-03-08T163855.348.png

(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Wed Mar 8 7:38:31 2023 UTC)

The post's video was a FOX News clip from Tucker Carlson's show. While surveillance video footage played, the TV host claimed:

The tapes show that Capitol Police never stopped Jacob Chansley. They helped him. They acted as his tour guides.

Chansley, who is serving 41 months in prison for his involvement in the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack, pleaded guilty to one felony count of obstructing an official proceeding. He signed a plea agreement that contradicts the post's claim. For example, the agreement stipulates that Chansley entered the Capitol through a broken door and that Capitol Police repeatedly asked Chansley and other rioters to leave the building.

The agreement states:

Instead of obeying the instructions of the U.S. Capitol Police to leave the building, the defendant [Chansley] traversed another staircase to the third floor of the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol building. At approximately 2:52 p.m., the defendant entered the Gallery of the Senate alone.

He was not, in other words, always "led through the Capitol" as the post claims.

While in the Senate, Chansley was again asked to leave. Video footage shot by The New Yorker's Luke Mogelson shows an officer asking the rioters:

Any chance I could get you guys to leave the Senate wing?

The officer was the lone law enforcement officer in the room at that time, according to the plea agreement. He was later joined by other officers, who succeeded in clearing the rioters from the room.

Chansley signed the plea agreement, acknowledging he'd read "this factual proffer, understand it, and agree that it is true and accurate." His statement continued:

While it is not a complete recitation of all that I did or all that I know, it represents some of my conduct and some of my knowledge concerning my own involvement in illegal activity.

Lead Stories reached out to Capitol Police to ask about the post's claim.

In an email, dated March 8, 2023, a spokesperson responded:

Before that video was recorded, a violent group of people fought through multiple police lines and illegally broke into the U.S. Capitol, which was closed for a Joint Session of Congress. In the HBO documentary Four Hours at the Capitol, our officer talks about the moments around his encounter with Jacob Chansley. The officer talks about how he tried to deescalate the crowd: 'The sheer number of them compared to us, I knew ahead there was no way we could all get physical with them, so I took it upon myself to try to talk to them.'

The spokesperson also confirmed the authenticity of an internal memo from U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger, who wrote, in part:

One false allegation is that our officers helped the rioters and acted as 'tour guides.' This is outrageous and false. This Department stands by the officers in the video that was shown last night. I don't have to remind you how outnumbered our officers were on January 6. Those officers did their best to use de-escalation tactics to try to talk rioters into getting each other to leave the building.

Other Lead Stories fact checks about Chansley can be found here.

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  Dana Ford

Dana Ford is an Atlanta-based reporter and editor. She previously worked as a senior editor at Atlanta Magazine Custom Media and as a writer/ editor for CNN Digital. Ford has more than a decade of news experience, including several years spent working in Latin America.

Read more about or contact Dana Ford

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