Members of Congress who have been pressing federal law enforcement officials unsuccessfully for months about the conditions and treatment of hundreds of Jan. 6 Capitol detainees will take their case to the doors of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Tuesday.
They also want to know why federal law enforcement authorities were warned weeks before the breach, yet Members of Congress were not told, and evidence has since accumulated that the Capitol Police were not properly informed or prepared by their leadership.
Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said Monday they will gather at DOJ at 1 pm to make public the demands they made in a letter last week to Attorney General Merrick Garland.
In their July 24 letter to Garland, the four congressmen “requested a meeting to discuss unanswered questions relating to the treatment of January 6th prisoners.”
They have received no response from the Attorney General. The same silence has greeted their repeated questions and requests about the situation for several months, according to Gohmert. Critics outside of Congress have raised similar concerns.
“Due to reports of civil rights violations against American citizens, during investigations, prosecutions and even conditions at the D.C. Central Detention Facility where some are being held, Members of Congress have been asking for answers for months, only to be ignored by [DOJ], leadership of the Capitol Police and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons,” Gohmert said in a statement made public late Monday.
“This should chill every American. One would expect to see abuses of political prisoners in tyrannical third-world countries, not the United States. But we don’t know what of these claims are true because this administration refuses to answer basic questions and give accountability for what appear to be their vengeful actions,” the Texas Republican congressman said.
“We have requested a meeting with the Attorney General since our previous request to assess conditions at the D.C. jail has been ignored. Everyone in this country should be concerned when matters as serious as these are politicized to the point where the rule of law and accountability is ignored,” he said.
“No matter whom you are in this country, you have the right to a fair trial and the right to see the evidence against you, including all potentially exculpatory or exonerating evidence. A plea agreement should not even be offered until these requirements are met,” Gohmert added.
Gohmert’s reference to plea agreements is the product of the fact DOJ has more than 14,000 hours of raw video recorded from multiple points within and without the U.S. Capitol during Jan. 6 when hundreds of protesters entered the building.
“Several defendants have already made plea agreements, yet it does not appear that either they, or their counsel, have had access to this potentially exculpatory evidence,” the four congressmen told Garland in their July 24 letter.
“Every American citizen has a constitutional right to all the evidence before making any decision to go to trial, plead no contest, or plead guilty. In our oversight capacity over the DOJ, we have asked multiple times for information only to have our inquiries ignored,” they wrote.
The government has arrested more than 500 individuals in connection with the breach of the Capitol that developed following President Donald Trump’s remarks to thousands of protestors concerned that the 2020 presidential election involved substantial voting fraud.
After Trump encouraged the protesters to make their voices heard in Congress peacefully, hundreds of them entered the Capitol building, including onto the floors of the Senate and House of Representatives chambers.
Only one casualty was linked to the entry into the Capitol, that of Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran who was shot by an as-yet-unidentified Capitol Police Officer as she climbed through a busted window frame.
The four congressmen told Garland they also “have concerns about reports of the conditions of the prison where these detainees are being held and whether, in fact, there have been instances of abuse inflicted by other prisoners or guards.
“We also have questions regarding whether some have been or are currently being imprisoned in solitary confinement for the purpose of punishment or as a means of cruel and unusual punishment.”
The four congressmen told Garland they want to know why they weren’t made aware before Jan. 6 of threats to Members of Congress who were scheduled to meet that day to confirm the Electoral College results from November 2020.
“We would also like to discuss why we were not warned that ‘armed extremists were planning mayhem’ on January 6th? [Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda] Pittman testified on February 25th this year that her office was notified in advance that ‘armed extremists’ were targeting the peaceful rally, and potentially targeting us, as Members of Congress. Yet we received no notice of this threat,” they told Garland.
Joseph McBride, attorney for Richard Barnett, the man seen around the world in a news photograph sitting at a desk in Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office on January 6, and Steven Metcalf, McBride’s partner in a New York law firm who represents Edward Jacob Lang, who also participated in the Jan. 6 event, issued the following statement in response to The Epoch Times’ request for comment:
“The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that pretrial detainees, unlike convicted persons, cannot be punished at all, never mind maliciously and sadistically. Despite this reality, January Sixers are being held in DC-GITMO in violation of their constitutional and human rights.
“They are being beaten, sleep deprived, denied medical care, and held in solitary confinement for long periods of time. Merrick Garland’s failure to publicly denounce the use of solitary confinement and other inhumane acts against January Sixers is an endorsement of these malicious and sadistic practices.”