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"QAnon Shaman" still feels "sympathy" for former President Donald Trump

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In his first interview from jail, Jacob Chansley, known as the "QAnon Shaman," says he still supports President Donald Trump. Laurie Segall spoke to Chansley for 60 Minutes+, a new show on ViacomCBS's new streaming platform, Paramount+. She joined Anne-Marie Green and Vladimir Duthiers with a preview on CBSN.

Video Transcript

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS: The man known as the "QAnon Shaman" is expected to ask a judge tomorrow to release him from jail ahead of his trial. Police arrested Jacob Chansley after the assault on the Capitol. Now we're hearing from him for the very first time. Chansley spoke with our colleague, Laurie Segall, from jail in an interview for Paramount+'s new show "60 Minutes Plus."

For more insider details, Laurie joins us now. She's a correspondent for "60 Minutes Plus" and a founder of Dot Dot Dot Media. Laurie, good to see you.

LAURIE SEGALL: Great to see you too.

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS: So there's really one exchange from your interview that just stood out to me. You asked Chansley if he understood that his actions on January 6 were an attack on this country. And he went on to defend himself. I want to play a clip from that.

JACOB CHANSLEY: Well, I sang a song. And that's a part of shamanism. It's about creating positive vibrations in a sacred chamber. I also stopped people from stealing and vandalizing that sacred space, the Senate. OK? I actually stopped somebody from stealing muffins out of the break room. I also said a prayer in that sacred chamber because it was my intention to bring divinity and to bring God back into the Senate.

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS: He wanted to bring divinity back to the Senate. Chansley also claimed that the riot was actually mischaracterized. In your interview, you pressed him, noting that people were injured and people died. How did he justify that?

LAURIE SEGALL: Yeah, I mean, he kept going back to this line of, you know, I was not violent. You know, I walked through open doors.

So I think my take, sitting across from him, you know, even in this video sense, was that he didn't fully grasp the gravity of some of this. You know, he said he wasn't a part of the violent part, you know, and we had a tit-for-tat. We just kept going back and forth and back and forth on it.

And, you know, I think what was also really interesting to me was even pressing him more and more on some of the conspiracies I think that brought him to that day. He still-- and I think this is noteworthy to mention. He still believes the election was fraudulent, which, may I say, it was not, right? And he still believes that Biden was not rightly elected. And I think these are-- it's important to talk about this type of thing because these are the conspiracies that he-- you know, that he grew up on, that he was looking at on the internet, and that very much drove him to-- this narrative that drove him to the actions on January 6.

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS: Hmm.

ANNE-MARIE GREEN: So you also talked to him about his loyalty to the former president. You know, some of the individuals who have been charged were sort of asking the former president to get them off the hook before he left office. I think the shaman might have been one of them. I want to play a little bit of that sound.

LAURIE SEGALL: What was it about Donald Trump that you felt so fiercely loyal to that you hung on every word and you interpreted his words in certain ways?

JACOB CHANSLEY: I developed a lot of sympathy for Donald Trump because it seemed like the media was picking on him. It seemed like the establishment was going after him unnecessarily or unfairly. And I had been a victim of that all of my life, whether it be in school or at home. So, in many ways, I identified with a lot of the negative things that he was going through. And I honestly believed and still believe that he cares about the Constitution, that he cares about the American people. And that's also why, you know, it wounded me so deeply and why it disappointed me so greatly that I and others did not get a pardon.

ANNE-MARIE GREEN: Chansley is sitting in jail. He's locked up. The former president was arguably one of the most powerful men on the planet and certainly incredibly wealthy. Were you surprised that he said he had sympathy for President Trump?

LAURIE SEGALL: Yeah, I think maybe what was so shocking to me was, he was holding on so tightly to the beliefs that led him to the day, that put him behind bars. You know, he was saying he believed that Donald Trump had his back, that he was going to be there; that he was so disappointed that he didn't get the pardon. And then what you didn't see is, after that clip, I kept pressing him. I said, you know, sitting where you're sitting, in jail, do you still-- are you still loyal, having interpreted these words, feeling this disappointment? And he said, absolutely, yes, he still feels that loyalty.

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS: So, Laurie, in one exchange that I thought was really interesting, he-- in that exchange when he talks about President Trump and he also said that he himself-- you know, he got bullied when he was a younger person or whatever, and I was just thinking to myself like a lot of people have been bullied in their life. A lot of people have had to deal with challenges. This notion of victimhood is something you hear a lot of from a lot of people who support President Trump. They see him as a victim because he's a victim of the media, and so they themselves are also victims because their ideas and their notions are somehow disregarded by, you know, the lamestream media.

But when, you know, you got African-Americans and Native Americans and every brown and Black person in this country sort of giving a side-eye to this notion of victimhood, some people are going to say, why give Chansley a platform to talk about his beliefs? Because we know he's a conspiracy theorist, and we know that the notions that he's spouting, even today as he sits behind jail, are misguided, and he's often amplifying misinformation. So why did we choose, as a network, to give him this platform?

LAURIE SEGALL: Well, it's interesting. That response that you just had to him saying he was bullied, I had that exact same response-- which you'll see if you watch the full piece-- and I press him on that.

You know, I-- it's interesting. I've interviewed the tech billionaires. I've covered technology my whole career, and I've interviewed so many of the tech billionaires and tech millionaires my whole career. And then I've interviewed, you know, the people that are on the other side of it too. And I think, you know, we can ignore these people. We can just pretend like this is not happening. But this is happening. Jacob Chansley is not alone. There are a large subset of people that believe in these theories. And if we don't understand how we got to where we got to, you know, I don't think that we're going to do a good job of moving forward. And I think it's actually really important to understand the narratives and what they're talking about.

That doesn't mean excusing it by any means. I think you have to understand, when you're looking at-- this is what one of the ADL experts we spoke to said. When you're looking at someone like Jacob Chansley, this could be the new face of extremism. You have to understand that, and you have to talk about that, and you have to dig into it. And I really believe that that's important.

Another thing I think is important, you know, is the role of technology and the role technology has played. You know, these people should be accountable for their actions. I think we have to have a larger conversation about mental health. I think we have to have a fuller conversation in general about this moment, because there's a large subset of people in America and globally that believe in these conspiracy theories. And I think January 6 was a very scary day looking at the impact of a lot of that type of stuff too.

So I don't think you can ignore it. I think you have to challenge it. And I think you have to walk that line very delicately. And, you know, I hear that criticism, but I've always been someone that said, what is the story here that we're missing, and how do we have the right kind of conversation around this? Because I'll tell you something. As someone who's spent a lot of time with folks from the QAnon community over the last couple months and people who are joining militias, this problem is not going away. We cannot just ignore it and think it's going away. Even Jacob Chansley said himself that-- I said, are you still a QAnon supporter? He said, I'm a supporter of truth.

Jacob Chansley represents a larger portion of QAnon-- that maybe they're not going to be QAnon because a lot of these predictions, you know, have not come true, but that doesn't mean they're going to truth. That doesn't mean they're going into reality. That means they could be going down the rabbit hole. And that's important for us to pay attention to.

ANNE-MARIE GREEN: So, listen, we're all talking about this because the interview is airing on "60 Minutes Plus." This is going to be brand new for a lot of people. Can you tell us about "60 Minutes Plus"?

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS: And congratulations.

LAURIE SEGALL: Yeah. Thanks. I'm super excited about it. You know, I think "60 Minutes Plus" is the same brand of "60 Minutes," which is just a legend when it comes to investigations and reporting and these profiles. But it'll be on Paramount+ streaming, and it's going to be a little bit different in that it will be longer than the normal "60 Minutes" you see on Sunday, which, I mean-- you guys know this-- it's a dream for us to be able to have a little more time to dig into these issues, right? Even, I think, Jacob's story, there's so much to be said about these implications. And we can really get into it and give it that time.

And the other correspondents that I'm working with, Wes Lowery and Enrique and Seth Doane, I mean, we all come from, I think, a very diverse background of where we have specifics. I've covered technology my whole career. We all have different beats that we kind of bring to the table and a different point of view. So we're incredibly excited about it. And we're looking at a younger audience and folks who are looking at streaming as well with that same "60 Minutes" legacy.

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS: Yeah, it's pretty cool. One of the things that I dig about the team of correspondents that you just mentioned, Laurie, is what you just said, right, that you all come from these unique backgrounds, and you have all covered sort of unique beats-- you with technology, Wesley around issues of race, Enrique around issues concerning the Latino community, and, of course, Seth, who's been a foreign correspondent most of his career. That sort of mix of your backgrounds and what you all bring to the table already made for an exciting show when it was on Quibi, and I'm just really excited that it's on Paramount+ now.

LAURIE SEGALL: Yeah. Well, we appreciate that, and we're excited to put it out to the world.

ANNE-MARIE GREEN: All right. Laurie Segall, thank you so much.