by Ben Whedon
Amid the public emergence of new video from the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot, multiple defendants have sought to delay their trials so they can access and review the footage for possible exonerating evidence.
At least five alleged participants in the demonstrations have sought trial delays citing a lack of access to all the relevant evidence in recent weeks, The Epoch Times reported.
Some have directly cited the footage that was provided from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to TV journalist Tucker Carlson and that began airing Monday.
In his first segment, Carlson showed footage of Jacob Chansley, the “QAnon Shaman,” being peacefully escorted by two Capitol Police officers during the incident.
“The tapes show the Capitol police never stopped Jacob Chansley. They helped him. They acted as his tour guides,” the Fox host asserted. Chansley “understood that the Capitol police were his allies,” he said. “If he was in the act of committing such a grave crime, why didn’t the officers standing right next to him place him under arrest?”
Capitol Police and lawmakers alike have taken exception to the news anchor’s portrayal of that day as a largely peaceful affair. Police have asserted that the footage he aired showcased a police effort to deescalate a previously raucous situation.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also expressed disagreement with Carlson’s narrative, insisting “it was a mistake” for the network to allow his segment to air.
Carlson’s trove includes roughly 41,000 hours of Capitol surveillance footage. McCarthy previously insisted in late February that the public had a vested interest in learning the truth of the matter, saying “the American public should actually see all [that] happened instead of a report that’s written [on] a political basis.”
Do they have all the footage?
Naturally, many of the defendants agree with McCarthy, and have insisted they cannot mount a proper defense of their actions without complete access to relevant materials, namely all of the surveillance footage.
Defense attorneys have had access to surveillance footage from the Department of Justice (DOJ) database, but some have expressed concerns the federal agency may not have received the entire amount of footage that Fox did. The Epoch Times highlighted concerns from attorney William Shipley, who observed that “if Congress… held back video then DOJ would not have it to put in the database.”
“It is not possible to say definitively right now that defense attorneys did — in fact — have all the videos that Tucker/Fox is showing. McCarthy says he gave Fox everything. That might include videos not given to DOJ,” he asserted.
Is there exculpatory evidence?
Defendant Shane Jenkins made exactly this argument recently, arguing that the Republican-driven release of footage included at least 25,000 hours of footage to which his attorneys had not previously had access, the Times noted.
“The request for additional time is necessary in order to adequately and diligently review all discovery pertaining to Mr. Jenkins and to determine whether any video contains relevant and material information that would pertain to Mr. Jenkins’ defense,” defense attorney Dennis Boyle wrote in a motion seeking delay of the trial, set to begin March 21.
“Video evidence depicting Mr. Jenkins would constitute both exculpatory and material evidence, which would require disclosure from the government,” he continued.
The judge has yet to rule on the motion.
Likewise, defendant Ryan Nichols sought a similar delay, saying in a filing the Times obtained that “for the first time since the inception of this case, the full context of January 6th has been made available to the Defendant and members of the public.” He further noted that the volume of footage more than doubles the amount previously thought to exist.
A judge has yet to rule on that motion as well.
Prior to Carlson’s Monday show, a judge rejected a delay request from defendant Sara Carpenter, who had made similar arguments. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg asserted that there was no evidence that any new materials would include exculpatory evidence in her case.
Defendant William Pope also cited the 41,000 hours of footage and his lack of access to those materials while seeking a delay.
Yet another defendant, Rachel Powell, excoriated claims that the defendants have had access to defense materials, telling the Times that “I am a J6 defendant and have not gotten my evidence even though it has been over two years.“
Some defendants already took plea deals or were convicted
Numerous January 6 participants have already taken plea deals or been convicted on charges stemming from the incident. At least 650 people have faced charges related to the incident. As of November 2022, roughly 120 had pleaded guilty.
Among them is Chansley, who received a 41-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to one count of felony obstruction of an official proceeding. Prosecutors had described him as “the public face of the Capitol riot.”
Other prominent participants, such as Richard Barnett, who appeared in photographs propping his feet on then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk, was convicted in January. Likewise, Kevin Seefried, who gained fame for carrying a Confederate Flag through the Capitol, was convicted much earlier, in June 2022.
It remains unclear to what footage any of these individuals may have had access during the trial.
– – –