Fact check: No connection between QAnon shaman's release from prison and Jan. 6 tapes

The claim: Jacob Chansley's release from prison is tied to Jan. 6 footage

A March 30 Facebook post (direct link, archived link) shows two images of Jan. 6 rioter Jacob Chansley, widely known as the QAnon shaman.

"BREAKING NEWS: ‘QAnon Shaman’ Jacob Chansley is freed from prison 14 months early after his lawyer said J6 footage showing him being escorted into Senate by cops was exculpatory," reads the post's caption.

The post generated over 500 shares in less than a week.

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Our rating: False

Chansley – who also goes by the name Jake Angeli – was recently released from prison and transferred to a halfway house in accordance with Bureau of Prison protocols. His attorneys confirmed the move was unrelated to a recent release of new Jan. 6 footage.

Chansley's release from prison is separate from Jan. 6 tapes

Chansley was arrested Jan. 9, 2021, and indicted on six charges for his involvement in the Jan. 6 attack. He pleaded guilty to obstruction of an official proceeding and was sentenced to 41 months in prison in November 2021.

On March 28, he was transferred from the Federal Correctional Institution Safford to community confinement, Benjamin O'Cone, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons, told USA TODAY via email.

But Chansley’s release had nothing to do with the Jan. 6 footage referenced in the post, according to William Shipley, Chansley’s attorney.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson aired exclusive clips of Capitol surveillance footage from the Jan. 6 attack on his show “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on March 6.

The footage – provided by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy – showed Chansley walking down the halls of the Capitol building while Capitol Police followed him. Albert Watkins, who represented Chansley in sentencing, called the footage “exculpatory.”

The timing of Chansley’s release, however, was consistent with the Bureau of Prisons' policies on the “calculation of custody time, taking into account certain 'time credits' to which Chansley was entitled to by law," Shipley said in an email.

Watkins agreed, noting that Chansley’s release was a combination of “credit earned for model behavior, programs completed, and other nuanced protocols in place with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.”

Supporters of President Donald Trump, including Jacob Anthony Chansley, aka Jake Angeli of Phoenix, center, who breached security enter the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress meets to confirm the 2020 presidential election.
Supporters of President Donald Trump, including Jacob Anthony Chansley, aka Jake Angeli of Phoenix, center, who breached security enter the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress meets to confirm the 2020 presidential election.

Under the First Step Act, inmates can earn time credits that go towards pre-release custody or early transfer by successfully completing certain programs based on their risk and needs assessment, according to the Federal Register.

"The amount of credit they can earn varies with the scope of their participation," Shipley said. "Chansley did participate, and did earn some credits."

Chansley also admitted to using controlled substances over a long period of time, Shipley said. He completed the Bureau of Prisons’ 9-month residential drug addiction program. A federal inmate who successfully completes the entire program is eligible to receive 12 months credit on their sentence, according to Shipley.

Fact check: False claim about Jacob Chansley, the QAnon shaman, amid Jan. 6 tapes reveal

Chansley received 54 days of credit per calendar year for "good time," or lack of a significant disciplinary record in custody, according to Shipley.

In addition, the last six months or 10% of an inmate’s term is typically served in preparation for reentry into the community, as is the case with Chansley being transferred to a halfway home.

“Those factors all combined to reduce his time in custody from 41 months to 27 months," Shipley said. "He received 14 months of total time credits."

Chansley’s projected release date from custody is May 25, O'Cone said.

Jan. 6 footage omits context about Chansley's actions inside the building

The footage aired on Carlson's show leaves out key details about Chansley's actions inside the Capitol building on Jan. 6.

For instance, when Chansley and a group of rioters were met by Capitol Police officers at the Senate side of the Capitol building, he challenged Capitol Police officer Keith Robishaw to let them pass, “using his bullhorn to rile up the crowd." as USA TODAY reported.

Fact check: Arrests were made inside Capitol building on Jan. 6, and after

Chansley also screamed obscenities in the Senate gallery, and Capitol Police had to repeatedly ask him to leave the building.

Chansley is a supporter of the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, which claims there is a global cabal of Satan-worshipping, cannibalistic child sex traffickers. Such claims have been widely debunked.

USA TODAY reached out to the social media users who shared the claim for comment.

Lead Stories and Factcheck.org also debunked the claim.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: No link between QAnon shaman's release and Jan. 6 tapes