Iowan Doug Jensen sentenced to five years in prison for ‘leading role’ in Jan. 6 insurrection

Trump supporters gesture to U.S. Capitol Police in the hallway outside of the Senate chamber at the Capitol in Washington D.C. The man in the Q sweatshirt was identified as Des Moines’ Doug Jensen, who was later arrested and charged with seven felonies related to the Capitol riots. Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. — AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

One of the most notorious faces — and T-shirts — photographed inside the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6, 2021 belonged to an Iowan, Doug Jensen.

On Friday morning, the 43-year-old former Des Moines construction worker was sentenced to five years in federal prison. This is just short of the 64 months’ imprisonment requested by federal prosecutors in their Dec. 7 memorandum, which described Jensen as “a ringleader during the attack on the U.S. Capitol.”

Jensen’s defense had asked for 27 months, or just over two years, saying their client was “an uneducated union laborer who became overwhelmed by conspiracy theories disseminated on the internet.”

In September, Jensen was found guilty on all five felony and two misdemeanor charges stemming from the Jan. 6 insurrection, including entering a restricted building with a knife in his pocket, disorderly conduct, and assaulting, resisting or impeding a police officer.

“The defendant wasn’t just leading the mob. He was weaponizing it,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Hava Mirell said at Jensen’s trial. “He knew he had the numbers, and he was willing to use them.”

In addition to 60 months in prison, U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly sentenced Jensen to 36 months supervised release and a $2,000 restitution fee.

Addressing the judge before his sentencing, Jensen said he plans to return to life as a “family man” and leave “politics” behind.

“I can’t change my past, I can just look to the future,” he said.

Judge Kelly said sentencing guidelines for Jensen’s convictions call for 57 to 71 months in prison. Jensen is neither a “patriot” nor a “monster” for what he did that day, Kelly said, but the breadth of video evidence showing him playing a “leading role” on Jan. 6 — including scaling a wall outside the Capitol to be among the first to enter, and celebrating the riots afterward on social media — indicate a “significant sentence” is needed.

“Your statement today doesn’t show you understand what you did was wrong,” Kelly told Jensen.

Jensen, formerly employed by Forrest & Associate Masonry in Des Moines, was an avid supporter of Donald Trump and a range of rightwing conspiracy theories. In social media posts on and before Jan. 6, as well as interviews with investigators after, Jensen expressed his belief that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. He traveled from Iowa to D.C. to attend the Stop the Steal Rally that preceded the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in order to represent Q, the anonymous figurehead of the QAnon movement. Jensen famously wore a Q shirt that day.

Doug Jensen appears to cause a Capitol Security officer to retreat upstairs during the Jan. 6 insurgence. — video stills, Igor Borbic on Twitter

Videos taken during the breach of the Capitol on Jan. 6 show Jensen emerging from the crowd and shouting at Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman before disregarding the officer’s orders and continuing into the building. Goodman pushes Jensen before picking a baton off of the ground and darting up a flight of stairs — successfully diverting Jensen and the rioters following Jensen from continuing down the hallway towards the Senate Chamber and the still-escaping Congressmembers, including Sen. Mitt Romney.

“He was the one up front, accosting me the most,” Goodman testified in Jensen’s trial.

As Jensen pursued Goodman, the Iowan can be heard telling his fellow rioters to “keep running,” and “he’s one person, we’re thousands.”

At the top of the stairs, Goodman tells Jensen “back up,” and pushes him again when Jensen fails to follow the order. Goodman calmly walks to an area known as the Ohio Clock Corridor, where he and fellow law enforcement officers contain Jensen and the other trespassers.

Prosecutors said Jensen told one of the officers, “Go arrest the vice president.”

Another officer Jensen faced down in the Ohio Clock room said his behavior was “pretty arrogant and cocky” because “he knew he had a lot more muscle behind him than I did.”

“Doug Jensen would not be stopped on Jan. 6 until he got what he came for: to stop the peaceful transfer of power,” prosecutors said in their closing arguments.

In police body cam video submitted into evidence, Doug Jensen can be heard encouraging fellow rioters to breach the police line outside of Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office on Jan. 6, 2021.

There is no evidence Jensen wielded a weapon that day, or brought anything more than a knife into the Capitol, but prosecutors said he had told a friend prior to the Stop the Steal rally on Jan. 6 that he and other attendees planned to arrive “locked and loaded” with “pistols.”

Following the riot, the FBI distributed photos and video stills of Jensen, among dozens of other insurgents, asking the public to help identify them. On Friday, Jan. 8, Jensen reportedly turned himself in to authorities, and was arrested and booked in the Polk County Jail in the early morning hours of Jan. 9. He admitted to FBI and Des Moines investigators that he was the man in the images, and told the agents he “basically intended on being the poster boy” for the insurrection, and was “trying to give all attention to Q” and “fire up the nation.”

Asked by the agents if he had any regrets about his actions, Jensen said everything he did would have been worth the trouble if the rioters could have forced the Senate to declare Donald Trump the winner of the 2020 election. In the sentencing memorandum, prosecutors cite this interview as part of the evidence that Jensen “has not clearly demonstrated acceptance of responsibility for his offenses.”

Doug Jensen in custody in Des Moines, two days after the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection.

Meanwhile, Officer Goodman was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in the weeks following the insurrection, and escorted Vice President Kamala Harris at Biden’s inauguration. He also served as a key witness for the prosecution at Jensen’s trial.

The U.S. Department of Justice charged Jensen, who pleaded not guilty on all counts. He had been held in jail in D.C. without bond since his arrest on Jan. 9 — apart from a brief “home incarceration” last summer. In June 2021, his defense attorney Christopher Davis successfully argued before a judge that Jensen deserved a reprieve from jail as he awaited trial.

“He is a non-violent man who now recognizes what happened to him. Perhaps a little late, but better late than never,” Davis argued. According to reporter Scott MacFarlane, Davis told the judge his client “deserves credit for not pushing past the solitary Capitol Police Officer (Eugene Goodman) on Jan 6.”

Against the recommendations of federal prosecutors, Judge Kelly granted Jensen pretrial release as long as he didn’t access the internet or rightwing media, among other conditions. But within 30 days of his release back to Des Moines under the custodianship of his wife, “Douglas Jensen was found alone, in his garage, using a WiFi-connected iPhone to stream news from Rumble,” according to a motion filed by federal prosecutors. He’d also been watching TV news and streaming Mike Lindell’s election fraud symposium.

He was swiftly sent back to jail in D.C. to await trial.

Both the prosecution and defense acknowledged how well-documented Jensen’s behavior in and around the Capitol was that day; Davis even described his client as the “Where’s Waldo” of Jan. 6. In his closing argument during Jensen’s trial, Davis conceded his client did break into the Capitol with the intent “to arrest” Vice President Mike Pence and stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election results, but called Jensen a “terribly confused man on Jan. 6 who believed in QAnon and whose mindset was impacted by the pandemic.”

Davis contrasted Jensen’s charges with those of Oath Keepers and other violent extremists, separating Capitol rioters into two categories: those “dressed in costume” that day and those “dressed for battle.” Davis counted Jensen among the former.

After roughly four hours of deliberation, the jury found Jensen guilty on all five felony and two misdemeanor charges.

Jensen’s five-year sentence exceeds that of another Q representative among the first rioters in the Capitol Building on Jan. 6; “QAnon shaman” Jacob Chansley received a sentence of 41 months, or almost three and half years, in prison after pleading guilty to obstruction of an official proceeding. But Jensen’s term falls short of fellow Iowan Kyle Young, whose more violent behavior on Jan. 6 garnered a seven-year sentence. The highest prison sentence for a Jan. 6 defendant so far — 10 years — was handed down to former NYPD officer Thomas Webster in September.

Doug Jensen confronts Inspector Lloyd in the Ohio Clock Corridor.

On Wednesday, two days before Jensen’s sentencing, the prosecution submitted a letter to the judge from U.S. Capitol Police Inspector Thomas Lloyd. In it, Lloyd — one of the officers Jensen faced down in the Ohio Clock Corridor, who called him “cocky” — describes the insurrection as “an intentional, violent attack against my officers” that resulted in two of their deaths, but could have been much worse for, and because of, Doug Jensen.

There were many leaders of the mob throughout the day. The Defendant in this case led the mob inside the Senate Wing of the United States Capitol Building up to the Main Entrance to the Senate Floor, threatening the entire United States Senate, the Vice President and my personnel.

Thankfully, the Defendant was able to walk out of the Capitol Building on January 6. He can thank Officer Goodman. If Officer Goodman had not led the Defendant and the rest of the mob away from the Senate Lobby and an attempt was made to breach those doors, there would have been tremendous bloodshed. Several rioters would have been carried out of the building if not for the quick thinking of Officer Goodman. …

The ramifications of January 6 will affect all of my personnel for the rest of their lives. As a result of the riot, 20 percent of my team separated from the Department. The mob leaders for January 6 should be ashamed.

Shortly after Jensen’s sentencing on Friday, his defense filed an appeal.

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