WASHINGTON — A group of lawmakers led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) visited the D.C. jail Friday where Donald Trump supporters have been held for rioting at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
The delegation consisted of House Oversight Committee members investigating the supposed unequal treatment of Jan. 6 rioters Greene describes as “political prisoners.”
The D.C. jail is notorious for its poor treatment of inmates. Still, Greene and committee chair James Comer (R-Ky.) have suggested they’re only interested in the plight of rioters being mistreated due to their politics.
After touring the facility for about two hours with about a dozen colleagues, including two Democrats, Greene told reporters the visit confirmed her view that there’s a double standard.
“There’s a very different treatment for pretrial Jan. 6 defendants,” she said.
The two Democrats from the committee, Reps. Robert Garcia (Ca.) and Jasmine Crockett (Texas), agreed that Jan. 6 defendants received different treatment ― except they said it was better treatment.
“The conditions in the Jan. 6 area are the best conditions in this whole facility,“ Garcia told HuffPost, saying the group can spend most of the day with each other, outside of their cells and away from the general jail population, with access to tablets for entertainment.
“They can text their family any time of the day,” Garcia said. “And they’re here because they committed serious crimes and harm, mostly to law enforcement.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the committee, blasted the visit in a lengthy statement as a “desperate attempt to whitewash the crimes of 20 incarcerated January 6 insurrectionists” and “nothing to do with objectively examining or improving jail conditions.”
Asked why she joined the Republican-led delegation, Crockett said, “I mean, there had to be somebody that was going to be willing to tell the truth.”
The facility has an older wing and a newer one where the Jan. 6 defendants have been held. Crockett said it’s a bit nicer than the older part of the complex and that the Jan. 6 crowd has its own communal area.
“They legitimately are by themselves, and they actually have a lot more access to the technology,” Crockett said.
The visit is part of a broader effort by House Republicans to recast the violent attack on the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters as more of a rowdy tourist visit — and a pretext for the “weaponization of government” against Trump supporters.
On Thursday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) met with Micki Witthoeft, the mother of Capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt, who was shot dead by police during the siege as she tried to climb through a barricaded doorway inside the Capitol. McCarthy had previously said he thought the officer “did his job.” Witthoeft told a reporter after the meeting that the speaker had been “delightful.”
In recent months Witthoeft has been a regular presence at the Capitol and outside the jail, where she maintains a vigil supporting Jan. 6 defendants.
Inside the jail, the inferior treatment Republicans described seemed to be based largely on conversations with the Jan. 6 inmates, who were allowed to talk to the lawmakers on Friday. Greene and her colleagues, including Reps. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) and Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.), said they complained of faulty doors, threats from other inmates and guards, insufficient medical care and lack of access to educational materials or court records.
Asked if she had talked to any inmates not in the jail for Jan. 6 crimes, Greene said officials wouldn’t allow it.
Most inmates at D.C. jail are city residents either awaiting trial or sentencing or serving a sentence for a misdemeanor offense. Nonviolent offenders are usually not held in jail until their court dates.
Greene has claimed nonviolent Trump supporters have been held in jail for years while awaiting trial for merely setting foot on the Capitol grounds. However, Greene has not named names, and she and her colleagues declined to do so on Friday.
A spokesperson for the Justice Department previously told HuffPost that most pretrial Jan. 6 detainees committed violent offenses and that none were charged solely with misdemeanors.
The website Just Security obtained a list of the 20 Capitol riot defendants held at D.C. jail and reported this week that “all of them have been charged with committing serious criminal offenses,” such as assaulting police officers.
Roughly a thousand people have been charged with crimes for their roles in the riot.