WASHINGTON ― House Republicans have launched in investigation into the alleged mistreatment of Donald Trump supporters who are locked up in the District of Columbia Jail on charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
House Oversight Committee chair James Comer (R-Ky.), along with committee members Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Clay Higgins (R-La.), want the District of Columbia government to provide a catalog of Jan. 6 detainees’ complaints and an explanation for why their trials haven’t started.
In a letter to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, the Republicans say they’re concerned that the city is “violating detainees’ constitutional and human rights.”
The request comes amid a broader effort by Republicans to rewrite the history of the Capitol riot at the same time Fox News host Tucker Carlson is telling his millions of viewers that the riot was more of a sightseeing visit than an insurrection. Carlson said his bogus claim had been bolstered by hours of video footage provided exclusively to him by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
Greene has long lamented the supposed mistreatment of accused Capitol rioters at the D.C. Jail, a facility notorious for problems such as faulty doors, broken air conditioning and inmate deaths. Greene said last year, before she had been named to the Oversight Committee, that she would push for an investigation.
In their letter, the Republicans make it clear they’re not investigating the jail ― just the alleged mistreatment of the Trump supporters locked up there, whom Greene has called political prisoners.
“The Committee is concerned by reports that January 6 detainees are facing a unique form of mistreatment due to their politics and beliefs, representing potential several human rights abuses,” the Republicans wrote.
The assault on the Capitol began after Trump held a rally in which he pushed the lie that the 2020 election had been stolen from him and as a joint session of Congress was meeting to certify the Electoral College count. Of the roughly 1,000 people charged with crimes connected to the riot, more than 500 have pleaded guilty and 53 have been found guilty at contested trials.
Federal criminal defendants are usually not kept in jail before trial unless they’re accused of violent or sexual offenses, have a prior criminal record or the government convinces a judge they might run away. Greene told HuffPost this week that some Jan. 6 defendants detained while awaiting trial merely trespassed on Capitol grounds.
“There’s many of them in there that are not accused of violent crimes,” Greene said. Neither she nor her office pointed to a specific example.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia ― the federal prosecutors overseeing Jan. 6 cases ― told HuffPost this week that there are roughly two dozen Capitol siege defendants being held pretrial.
“Almost all of these defendants are charged with assaultive conduct and none are charged only with misdemeanor offenses,” a spokesperson said.
In December, Greene participated in an event where several Capitol rioters accused of violent crimes spoke via phone from behind bars and asked for online donations.
A spokesperson for the D.C. Department of Corrections did not respond to a request for comment.
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