Lawmakers Tour D.C. Jail Where Jan. 6 Defendants Are Held
WASHINGTON — When Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, arranged a tour of a DC prison to check on the status of defendants charged in the January 6 riots on Capitol Hill, party members Democrats face a choice: Boycott or join.
House Democrats watched the Congress before Republican leader Kevin McCarthy withdrew his members from the Democratic-led selection committee investigating the January 6 attacks. 2021, and then found herself without a say in nationally televised hearings. After internal debate on the matter, Democrats are determined not to make the same mistake.
So, after a roughly two-hour tour of the prison on Friday, as Ms. Greene concluded her speech to reporters gathered outside, Representative Jasmine Crockett, a Democrat of Texas, stepped in front of the microphone.
“Someone has to be here to tell the truth,” said Ms Crockett, a first-term member of Congress and a former public attorney. “If we weren’t here, there would be no check on anything they said.”
Ms. Crockett is familiar with prisons in Texas and Arkansas, where she said inmates face much harsher conditions. She reported that nearly two dozen defendants at the DC facility charged in connection with the January 6 attack were held in a newer section of the prison, which has more open space and is given computers. board for entertainment.
“My frame of reference comes from Arkansas prisons, Texas prisons. Look, this is so different and so much better,” Ms. Crockett said, adding that people incarcerated elsewhere in the DC facility are held in worse, more cramped conditions. . “I don’t think people born on January 6 will want to go the other way.”
Earlier this month, House Republicans opened their long-promised investigation into whether those charged with involvement in the January 6 attacks were mistreated at a D.C. prison. or not, fulfill the pledge that party leaders have made to their right wing. The investigation – part of a broader effort by Republicans to rewrite the history of the riot, in part by portraying the participants as real victims – is a priority for the government. Greene, who wrote a report in 2021 on the dire conditions at the prison and had considerable influence among Republicans in the House.
Understanding the events on January 6
Ms. Greene and fellow Republicans left the facility on Friday afternoon to a noisy scene with a small number of noisy protesters. One repeatedly blew a loud whistle as Ms Greene tried to speak to reporters, causing her to be interrupted. Another man shouted out a description of the crimes committed by the defendants on January 6. “Capitol police have been attacked!” he shouted. “They need a long prison sentence!” A vehicle paid for by a political group affiliated with the Democratic Party, showing screens showing violence on January 6, when about 150 officers were injured.
Ms Greene’s spokesman at one point covered her ears when trying to stop a protester from approaching her.
Speaking to television cameras, Ms. Greene criticized the “two-tiered justice system” in which the January 6 defendants were treated like “political prisoners”.
“They told us stories of being denied medical treatment,” she said of her conversations with the defendants January 6. “They told us stories of being assaulted. They told us stories of rape threats.”
Ms. Greene visited the prison in November 2021 and presented her details discovered in a report released next month. She said one inmate reported being beaten by other detainees and not being cared for.
On Friday, she said conditions had improved since her last visit.
“In the whole prison, it’s cleaner. It’s been painted,” Ms Greene said, adding: “They were allowed out of the cell a lot longer during the day.”
Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, a Florida Republican, credits the Republican-led tour for helping to improve the cleanliness of the facility: “They said it about a month ago, since we did. I won back Congress, things got better,” said Luna, referring to the detainees. “But they say they’ve cleaned it up in the last few days since they knew we were coming.”
Seventeen of the 20 defendants incarcerated at the DC prison on charges related to January 6 were charged with assaulting law enforcement officers during the attack on the Capitol, according to research conducted by one of the lead authors of the House committee’s January 6 report. Other defendants include a member of the Proud Boys and a member of the Oath Keepers, the report said.
Under a different strategy, Democrats may have opted out of the tour, choosing to skip an event many on the left see as a stunt. But Representative Robert Garcia of California said Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, asked him to attend to “ensure there is a fair representation of what’s going on. happened.”
“These people tried to overthrow our government,” Garcia said, adding: “Although Marjorie Taylor Greene wants to treat these people as fake celebrities, these people are fundamentalists. uprising and we can’t forget that.”
Ms. Greene wrote to the mayor of DC, Muriel Bowser, earlier this month to request all documents and contact information regarding the January 6 detainees’ complaint about the conditions. The investigation comes as Republicans, two years after the mob attack on the Capitol, split on the issuewith many in the party wanting to move on, seeing the riots as a political responsibility, while a larger group pushed to tackle it.
Many in the party’s far-right establishment believe the rioters had a point in standing up against an election that former President Donald J. Trump falsely claimed was stolen.
Mr. Trump even recently recorded a contribution to a song featuring the defendants called “Justice For All.” reached #1 on iTunes.
But in debating the defendants’ rights on January 6, Republicans hit on the issue of prison reform and were able to find some common ground with Democrats.
Civil rights advocates have long been concerned about conditions at the DC prison. The facility received more attention when defendants charged with involvement in the January 6 attacks were located there, and their attorneys raised concerns about threats from guards, stagnant sewage and little food and water.
A federal judge in 2021 arrested top DC prison officials for contempt of courtruled that they unreasonably delayed medical treatment of a defendant January 6 in their custody.
The prison investigation is one of several demands from right-wing lawmakers as Mr McCarthy seeks their votes during weeks of intense negotiations during his campaign for the top seat in the House of Representatives. institute. He also authorized the release of more than 40,000 hours of Capitol security footage from January 6, 2021 to Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who used the video to try to downplay the violence of the day and reenact the attack as a largely peaceful gathering. And Mr. McCarthy approved a subcommittee, led by Representative Barry Loudermilk of Georgia, to investigate the work of the Jan. 6 House committee to look for signs of bias.
Asked if she was involved in vindication of the January 6 events, Ms Greene replied that others were vindication of riots perpetrated by leftist groups.
“The Democrats as well as the media are whitewashing everything that happened to antifa, the BLM protests and riots across the country in 2020,” she said. “I don’t know why we all have to forget about that but we have to keep arresting another 1,000 people for January 6th.”