Jacob Chansley — the QAnon adherent who infamously stormed the Senate chamber shirtless and wearing horns on Jan. 6 — should go to prison for 51 months, prosecutors said Tuesday in a late-night sentencing memo carrying their stiffest recommendation yet in any case stemming from the insurrection.
Images of Chansley on the Senate rostrum, where he scrawled a menacing note to Vice President Mike Pence, became iconic in the aftermath of the attack. The so-called “QAnon Shaman” is just the third felony defendant to reach the sentencing phase of his prosecution after pleading guilty to obstructing Congress’ effort to certify the 2020 election.
“Defendant Chansley’s now-famous criminal acts have made him the public face of the Capitol riot,” prosecutors said in the 28-page filing.
“The defendant was among the first 30 rioters to penetrate the U.S. Capitol building,” they continued. “The defendant then stalked the hallowed halls of the building, riling up other members of the mob with his screaming obscenities about our nation’s lawmakers, and flouting the ‘opportunity‘ to rid our government of those he has long considered to be traitors.”
The Justice Department’s sentencing proposal for Chansley — who isn’t accused of assaulting law enforcement or destroying government property — far outstrips prosecutor’s 18-month recommendation for Paul Hodgkins, the only felony defendant serving a prison sentence related to the Jan. 6 attack. A judge ultimately sentenced Hodgkins, who like Chansley made it into the Senate Chamber, to an eight-month jail term.
Prosecutors are also seeking a 44-month jail term for Scott Fairlamb, a former MMA fighter who pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer after exiting the Capitol on Jan. 6. Fairlamb is set for sentencing on Wednesday before U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth, who is also handling Chansley’s case.
Prosecutors’ recommendation of a four-year-three-month prison term for the Arizona resident is at the top of the sentencing guidelines range that court officials calculated in his case of 41 to 51 months.
Chansley’s attorney, Albert Watkins, has not made a specific recommendation to Lamberth. However, Watkins said a sentence “significantly below” the guidelines range would be appropriate. The defense lawyer also noted that, by the date of sentencing, Chansley is expected to have served more than 10 months in pretrial detention.
Prosecutors say Chansley warrants a stiffer sentence than Hodgkins and Fairlamb because of his months-long effort to sow disinformation about the integrity of the election, his repeated refusal to listen to police officers’ commands inside the Capitol, and his brandishing of a spear-tipped flagpole.
“Chansley showed no remorse in the days after the event,” they wrote. “gloating to NBC News that the actions of the rioters that day sent our nation’s law makers into hiding, with gas masks, retreating into their underground bunker.”
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