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Available evidence rebuts Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s claim that Capitol Police officers acted as "tour guides" for "QAnon Shaman" Jacob Chansley during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.
Officers repeatedly asked Chansley to leave the building. This is corroborated by the plea agreement Chansley signed and a Capitol Police officer’s account of the events.
Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger called Carlson’s claim "outrageous and false" in an internal department memo. He wrote that officers used de-escalation tactics to try to talk rioters into getting each other to leave the Capitol.
Jacob Chansley, more infamously known as the "QAnon Shaman," is serving out a 41-month prison sentence for his actions during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Photos from the attack show Chansely, clad in red, white and blue face paint and a horned fur cap, walking the Capitol’s halls and shouting in the Senate chamber. In September 2021, Chansley pleaded guilty to a felony charge of obstructing an official proceeding.
While in the Capitol, Chansley was followed by Capitol Police and repeatedly ignored officers’ orders and requests to leave the building, according to Chansely’s signed plea agreement.
But during a March 6 segment of "Tucker Carlson Tonight," Fox News host Tucker Carlson portrayed the events differently, suggesting that Chansley had officers’ support and hadn’t disobeyed them.
"The tapes show that Capitol police never stopped Jacob Chansley, they helped him," Carlson said. "They acted as his tour guides."
As Carlson spoke, Fox played surveillance video footage without audio that showed officers near Chansley, often appearing to trail behind him. Carlson said he received what he called "unfettered" access to more than 40,000 hours of unreleased surveillance tape from the riot from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
During his show, Carlson introduced a video of Chansley in the Senate chamber, and said that Capitol police officers were taking Chansley "to multiple entrances" and trying to "open locked doors for him."
"We counted at least nine officers who were within touching distance of unarmed Jacob Chansley, not one of them even tried to slow him down," Carlson said. "Chansley understood the Capitol police were his allies."
However, Chansley’s signed plea agreement, an officer’s firsthand account of the events, and an internal memo from Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger all contradict Carlson’s claim that Capitol Police acted as Chansley’s Capitol "tour guides" Jan. 6.
After hundreds of rioters overwhelmed police and breached the Capitol building, Capitol Police officers repeatedly asked Chansley to leave the Capitol. He refused, delaying Congress’ certification of the 2020 election results for hours, according to his plea agreement.
PolitiFact named lies downplaying the Capitol attack — including a lawmaker’s claim that it was a "tourist visit" — its collective Lie of the Year in 2021.
We reached out to Fox News for comment and received no response.
Chansley was arrested in Phoenix three days after the Capitol attack. Although he initially faced six charges, Chansley in November pleaded guilty to one count of obstructing an official proceeding.
Capitol Police officers repeatedly asked Chansley and other rioters to leave the Capitol building, according to the plea agreement.
The seven-page agreement stated that "if this case were to go to trial, the government would prove the following facts beyond a reasonable doubt," and then listed the following details:
Chansley entered the Capitol through a door other rioters had broken open. He was among the first 30 rioters inside the building.
Chansley and other rioters went to the second floor of the Senate side of the building and "were met by a line of U.S. Capitol Police officers, instructing them to peacefully leave the building." Chansley challenged U.S. Capitol Police Officer Keith Robishaw "to let them pass." Chansley ultimately used "his bullhorn to rile up the crowd and demand that lawmakers be brought out."
Chansley went to the third floor, entered the Senate Gallery and "proceeded to scream obscenities in the Gallery," as other rioters entered the Senate chamber below.
Chansley next tried to gain entry to the Senate floor and again encountered Robishaw, "who once again asked him to leave the building." Chansley said others were on the Senate floor and he was going to join them; the officer followed him.
Chansley climbed the Senate dais and sat in then-Vice President Mike Pence’s seat, taking pictures of himself. Despite repeated requests from Robishaw, Chansley refused to vacate the seat. "Mike Pence is a f- - -ing traitor," he said.
Just after 3 p.m., "other law enforcement officers arrived to support (Robishaw) and cleared the defendant and other rioters from the chamber."
Chansley signed that plea deal, attesting that he had read the account of the events and agreed "that it is true and accurate."
"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," read the statement just above Chansley’s signature.
Smoke fills the walkway outside the Senate Chamber as rioters are confronted by U.S. Capitol Police officers inside the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP)
Robishaw was interviewed for the HBO documentary "Four Hours at the Capitol," released in October 2021. His firsthand account of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack supports the details in Chansley’s plea agreement.
About 45 minutes into the film, Robishaw said he entered the Senate chamber behind "the Shaman," referring to Chansley. "And that’s when I realized I was alone now," he said.
Robishaw’s comments were corroborated by accompanying footage, including video that showed him asking Chansley to leave: "Any chance I could get you guys to leave the Senate wing?"
Robishaw described Chansley sitting at the lectern. He described being the lone officer in the chamber.
"And, in my mind, I was like, ‘I can’t do anything,’ you know?" Robishaw said. "(What) I can only do is, you know, shout orders, and if they listen, great. If they don’t, I can’t force them. I’m by myself."
Capitol Police were vastly outnumbered. A department spokesperson previously told PolitiFact that officers worked to de-escalate the situation during the attack by asking rioters to remain peaceful.
Rioters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (AP)
In an internal department memo, Manger, the Capitol Police chief, said Carlson’s claim that officers helped the rioters and acted as tour guides was "outrageous and false."
Manger denounced Carlson’s program and contested Carlson’s assertion that the network had reached out to Capitol Police for context before airing the segment.
"This department stands by the officers in the video that was shown last night," Manger wrote. "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."
The department did not respond to PolitiFact’s request for comment, but did confirm the memo’s authenticity.
NEW - Capitol Police chief Thomas Manger sends internal memo this am saying Carlson’s report was “filled with offensive and misleading conclusions” about Jan. 6 and says the “opinion program” never reached out with appropriate context. Reporting w/ @rachelvscott pic.twitter.com/BrnD0n4IN1— Katherine Faulders (@KFaulders) March 7, 2023
Carlson claimed Capitol Police officers "helped" Chansley and "acted as his tour guides."
Available evidence rebuts this claim. Chansley was among the first rioters to force their way into the building through a door other rioters had broken. Officers repeatedly asked Chansley to leave the building. This is corroborated by the plea agreement Chansley signed and an officer’s account of the events.
The Capitol Police chief called Carlson’s claim "outrageous and false," and said officers used de-escalation tactics to try to talk rioters into getting each other to leave the Capitol.
We rate this claim Pants on Fire!
PolitiFact staff writer Samantha Putterman contributed to this report.
Internet Archive, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, March 6, 2023
U.S. Department of Justice, CHANSLEY, Jacob Anthony (aka Jacob Angeli), accessed March 7, 2023
U.S. Department of Justice, Statement of offense in support of guilty plea Case No. 21-cr-003, accessed March 7, 2023
CNN, What to know about the Tucker Carlson January 6 footage, March 7, 2023
PBS News Hour, Jan. 6 rioter known as ‘QAnon Shaman’ sentenced to 41 months, Nov. 17, 2021
The Washington Post, Capitol Police chief blasts Tucker Carlson over ‘misleading’ Jan. 6 footage, March 7, 2023
HBO, Four Hours at the Capitol, accessed March 7, 2023
The Washington Post, Judge orders release of videos that challenge claims made by ‘QAnon Shaman,’ March 16, 2021
Steve Nelson tweet, Jan. 6, 2021
NBC News, Capitol riot's 'QAnon Shaman' appeals guilty plea and 41-month prison sentence, Nov. 30, 2021
NBC News, 'QAnon Shaman' who stormed Capitol in horns should spend 51 months in prison, prosecutors say, Nov. 10, 2021
NBC News, 'QAnon Shaman,' Capitol rioter who wore horns, pleads guilty, Sept. 3, 2021
PolitiFact, Ask PolitiFact: Did Capitol Police let mob of Trump supporters in? Jan. 7, 2021
PBS News Hour, Jan. 6 rioter known as ‘QAnon Shaman’ sentenced to 41 months, Nov. 17, 2021
PolitiFact, Clip of Capitol police speaking with rioters doesn’t prove mob was given OK to enter building, May 18, 2021
PolitiFact, D’Souza falsely claims Jan. 6 video shows police using ‘massive’ force on ‘unarmed Trump supporters,’ Jan. 10, 2022
The Washington Post, ‘QAnon Shaman’ Jacob Chansley, face of pro-Trump Capitol riot, pleads guilty to felony, Sept. 3, 2021
NPR, Jacob Chansley, self-styled 'QAnon Shaman,' to stay in jail pending trial, March 9, 2021
USA Today, Capitol mob drew Trump supporters of all stripes, from a fireman to a 'QAnon shaman', Jan. 7, 2021
Katherine Faulders tweet, March 7, 2023
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