Twitter and Tesla CEO Elon Musk called for the release of Jan. 6 defendant Jacob Chansley, also known as the “QAnon Shaman,” in response to a newly released video of the Capitol breach.
“Free Jacob Chansley,” the world’s richest person, who has 131 million followers on Twitter, wrote in a Twitter post on Friday.
Chansley was found guilty and jailed for conspiracy charges related to the Capitol breach that occurred on Jan. 6, 2021, and he was later sentenced to 41 months in prison on November 2021.
Chansley received arguably the most spotlight among those who participated in the breach, famous for his distinct look with face paint and a horned hat, as well as for his self-described affiliation with the QAnon movement.
Musk’s tweet was a response to a video posted on Twitter by political strategist Chuck Callest. The clip shows Chansley standing at an entrance of the Capitol building, calling everyone to go home.
While the video doesn’t show a timestamp, it was likely filmed soon after former President Donald Trump posted a video on Twitter on the afternoon of Jan. 6, 2021, telling the protestors to “go home.”
“Donald Trump has asked everybody to go home. So what are we going to do? We are going to obey our president, and do as he asked and we are going to go home,” Chansley said in the video, speaking through a megaphone.
“Let’s get out of here, guys,” he said.
In another follow-up post on the same day, Musk clarified that he is not a part of the “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) movement—an ideology centered on America-first principles popularized by Trump—but rather is speaking from a point of fairness.
“I’m not part of MAGA, but I do believe in fairness of justice,” Musk wrote, “Chansley was falsely portrayed in the media as a violent criminal who tried to overthrow the state and who urged others to commit violence. But here he is urging people to be peaceful and go home. And the other video shows him calmly walking in the Capitol building, being escorted by officers and then thanking the officers.”
I’m not part of MAGA, but I do believe in fairness of justice.
Chansley was falsely portrayed in the media as a violent criminal who tried to overthrow the state and who urged others to commit violence.
But here he is urging people to be peaceful and go home. And the other… https://t.co/XU8vISJaNy
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 11, 2023
In another post on the same day, he compared Chansley’s sentence with that of a person who assaulted comedian Dave Chapelle.
“Chansley got 4 years in prison for a non-violent, police-escorted tour!? Dave Chapelle was violently assaulted on stage by a guy with a knife. That guy got a $3000 fine & no prison time,” Musk wrote.
Musk’s Friday comments come after days of internet uproar brought on by Fox New’s airing of never-shown-before surveillance footage in and around the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) released the footage to Fox News Tucker Carlson, who aired it on his show Tucker Carlson Tonight.
Among the most high-profile revelation in these tapes was a clip showing Capitol Police officers walking alongside Chansley, who was unarmed. Other footage showed Chansley walking past several Capitol police officers.
Following the tapes’ release, Musk has been vocal in projecting his frustrations on Twitter.
“This is crazy. The public was misled,” Musk wrote, replying to the footage showing Chansley walking in the Capitol building.
He also took issue with the conduct of the Jan. 6 committee, saying that they “withheld evidence” for political reasons.
“Besides misleading the public, they withheld evidence for partisan political reasons that sent people to prison for far more serious crimes than they committed,” Musk wrote on Twitter, referring to the Jan. 6 Committee. “That is deeply wrong, legally and morally.
In an interview with The Epoch Times, Mike Davis, legal expert and president of the Article III Project, said that he believes the videos constitute “exculpatory evidence” in Chansley’s case.
“It shows that he wasn’t a violent threat,” Davis, a former clerk under Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. “At best, he should have been charged with trespassing—at best, 30 days in jail. Forty-one months? For what?”
“I think a reasonable juror would think that he thought he could be there when the police are walking him around and not telling him to leave,” Davis added.
“Even a 95 percent Democrat D.C. jury would not have found Jacob Chansley guilty if they watched that video.”