The J6 Committee’s Obstruction of Justice

We are all familiar with the fact that members of Congress are constitutionally immune from prosecution over what they say during the time they are debating in the House or Senate (Article 1, §6, clause 1). So, Pencil Neck Schiff was free to lie through his teeth about “evidence” of Trump conspiring with Russia, and all we could do was turn the volume down or change channels. The January 6 Select Committee was similarly free to declare that the riot around the Capitol building was “an insurrection” “worse than Pearl Harbor,” and we had no other recourse.

The committee and media friends

Of course, the Uniparty, to which Mitch the Turtle McConnell, Mittens Romney, and Thom Tillis have declared their allegiance, is now sounding air raid sirens over Tucker Carlson’s airing of previously concealed surveillance video from inside the Capitol. Kevin McCarthy wisely has avoided taking any sides other than to declare that transparency is a paramount virtue. Mere citizens such as this writer are left to puzzle out the legal ramifications of this turn of events. The case of Jacob Chansley, aka the Q-Anon Shaman, brings them into sharp focus. And we must wonder if the Committee and their allies are yelling because they have been placed in serious legal jeopardy. Tucker is taking flak from them, so he must be over the target.

Jacob Chansley became the face of the January 6 event because of his outlandish makeup and dress on that day. He was photographed in the Senate chambers and charged with "knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds." He argued in his defense that he had been admitted to the building by the Capitol Police and was escorted around by them. His attorney made “extraordinary efforts” to get security video to bolster his claims but was unable to gain access to it.

Following Chansley’s failure to corroborate his story, he was coerced into pleading guilty to “obstructing an official proceeding.” Judge Royce Lamberth sentenced him to 41 months in prison to set an example, as requested by the prosecution. Suddenly, Tucker Carlson has broadcast proof that Chansley’s story is true. He was admitted to the building without any sort of violence that has been documented. While some broke windows to get in, Chansley was part of a group that simply walked in when the police opened the doors to allow them in, contrary to Judge Lamberth’s written opinion. The inner doors had magnetic locks, which, if switched on, would have prevented Chansley and the crowd he was with from entering. Thus, if the Capitol Police had wished to prevent entry, all they had to do was flip a switch. Instead, as numerous witnesses have stated, the doors were opened from the inside to allow entry. He then wandered around the building with police officers in tow. They even tried to open various locked doors to allow him into the Senate chambers.

Chansley’s attorney adamantly insisted that the prosecutors had access to all the relevant video but refused to allow him to see it or present it in court. If that statement is true, then the prosecutors committed a “Brady violation.” In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled in Brady v. Maryland and its successor cases that a prosecutor has an affirmative duty to disclose all evidence that is potentially favorable to the defendant. Concealing that video meant that the prosecutors denied Chansley his right to an effective defense. This is an extremely serious offense which can properly overturn a conviction or plea. Just ask General Flynn. Unfortunately, the system protects its own, and attorneys seldom pay much of a price.

But let us suppose that the prosecutors did not see all that video, and therefore did not commit a Brady violation. Is there another crime lurking? We can’t punish the J6 Committee members for their lies from the dais, but they did something far worse. They concealed the evidence by refusing to let anyone but their chosen allies see it. They even tried to lock it up for fifty years. There’s a term for this: Obstruction of Justice. And it’s found in 18 USC § 1519.

“Whoever knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States or any case filed under title 11, or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter or case, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.”

Before we go any farther, we must note that there is an issue with the statute of limitations. The DOJ has five years to prosecute, unless the offender has traveled out of state (out of DC!), in which case the statute is tolled (extended). But! If the obstruction involves a case where people were murdered (Does the name Ashli Babbitt come to mind?), there is no statute of limitations.

Princess Pelosi and her minions on the J6 Committee concealed over forty thousand hours of video. In that library are segments documenting how multiple people were beaten, and some even killed. Others have died in jail without being able to present a defense. Other video shows what appear to be agents provocateur working to stir up the crowd. In short, the J6 Committee concealed evidence of their own criminality while preventing innocents from presenting legitimate defenses to trumped-up criminal charges. This is “concealing” and “covering up” evidence “with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States.”

The J6 Committee members are not just left-wing blowhards. They have obstructed justice, which I presume is not protected by the Speech and Debate clause. It is a felony and should be prosecuted post haste by an incoming Attorney General in a new Republican administration. Congress must never be allowed to think that they are immune from the laws that are used against the rest of us.

Ted Noel MD is a retired Anesthesiologist/Intensivist who podcasts and posts on social media (even restored on Twitter!) as DoctorTed and @vidzette. His DoctorTed podcasts are available on many podcast channels.

Photo credit: YouTube screengrab

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