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The self-described “QAnon Shaman” — who garnered widespread recognition after storming the Capitol shirtless, wearing face paint, a bearskin and horned headdress on Jan. 6 — claimed in a jailhouse interview aired Thursday that police officers “waved” him and others into the building on that day nearly two months ago.
Jacob Chansley answered questions from “60 Minutes Plus” for an interview first aired on “CBS This Morning,” a day before a Washington, D.C., judge is set to hear arguments Friday over his pre-trial release.
Prosecutors argued in a new filing on Monday that Chansley is a danger to the community, explaining he held a speared weapon as he confronted officers inside the Capitol, wrote a threatening note to then-Vice President Mike Pence and spoke about ridding the government of traitors.
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But Chansley categorized his actions on Jan. 6 differently, rejecting the notion that what he did was an attack on this country. He also claimed he remained peaceful after officers “waved” him into the Capitol building.
“My actions were not an attack on this country. That is incorrect. That is inaccurate entirely,” he told “60 Minutes Plus” correspondent Laurie Segall, describing instead how he prayed, sang songs inside the building and prevented theft and vandalism.
“I sang a song and that’s a part of Shamanism. It’s about creating positive vibrations in a sacred chamber,” Chansley said. “I also stopped people from stealing and vandalizing that sacred space, the Senate. I actually stopped someone 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, to bring God back into the Senate.”
In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 file photo, supporters of President Donald Trump, including Jacob Chansley, center with fur and horned hat, are confronted by Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber inside the Capitol in Washington. A video showed Chansley leading others in a prayer inside the Senate chamber. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Segall pressed him, pointing out that he was not legally allowed to be in that chamber.
“That is the one very serious regret that I have, was believing that when we were waved in by police officers that it was acceptable,” he said, describing himself as a lover of this country and a believer in the Constitution, the “truth and our founding principles” and God.
Chansley also made a distinction that although he regrets entering the Capitol, he does not regret supporting former President Donald Trump — but he was disappointed not to have received a presidential pardon during Trump’s last days in office.
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“I developed a lot of sympathy for Donald Trump because it seemed like the media was picking on him,” Chansley said. “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 at school or at home, so in many ways I identified with many of the negative things he was going through.”
“I honestly believed and still believe that he cares about the Constitution,” Chansley continued, referring to Trump. “That he cares about the American people. And that’s also why it wounded me so deeply and disappointed me so greatly that I and others did not get a pardon.”
“I regret entering that building. I regret entering that building with every fiber of my being,” he added.
“But you don’t regret the loyalty to Donald Trump?” Segall asked. Chansley responded flatly, “No.”
Authorities have said Chansley was allegedly among the first people to force their way into the Capitol building on Jan. 6, disobeyed orders to leave, refused an officer’s request to use Chansley’s bullhorn to tell rioters to leave the Senate chamber, called Pence a traitor and wrote a note to the then-vice president saying, “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”
While prosecutors say the spear attached to a flagpole carried by Chansley into the Capitol was allegedly a weapon, his attorney has characterized the spear as an ornament. The defense lawyer also argued the message that Chansley penned to Pence wasn’t intended to be threatening and said his client is suffering from digestive tract difficulties, even though he has been given organic food, as he had requested.
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Chansley, who calls himself the “QAnon Shaman” and has long been a fixture at Trump rallies, unsuccessfully sought a pardon from Trump. In February, he issued an apology, saying he was wrong for entering the Capitol building on Jan. 6.
He has pleaded not guilty to two felony and four misdemeanor charges. Chansley also made headlines after a judge approved a request that he be given organic food in jail to honor his religious beliefs. He is being held in Washington, D.C., after he was moved from an Arizona jail following his initial arrest.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.