World Republicans Recast Jan. 6 Riot Defendants as ‘Political Prisoners’
The Republicans Have Already Given Biden What He Needs
GOP senators may have blocked the infrastructure agreement they negotiated, but the president may still win.So it wasn’t a big surprise that the first test vote on the infrastructure agreement failed in the Senate today. Republicans blocked debate on the proposal, defying a bid by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to hurry negotiators along by bringing the unfinished bill to the floor. Even those Republican senators who have spent weeks defending the deal voted in opposition, upset at what they considered to be Schumer’s heavy-handed tactics.
The recording is barely discernible, but amid the clangs and scratches it’s possible to make out a few male voices singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Despite its poor quality, it’s become an object of veneration on the far-right: a recording of imprisoned Capitol riot suspects singing the national anthem.
“This breaks my heart,”Amy Kremer, the leader of Women for America First and a key organizer of the Jan. 6 Trump rally at the Washington Monument that preceded the U.S. Capitol riot.
The recording,earlier this month on a conservative blog, has become the latest totem in an effort to cast the imprisoned riot defendants as patriotic political prisoners suffering behind bars. The Daily Beast was unable to verify the authenticity of the recording.
CNN's Jake Tapper Confronts Pat Toomey on GOP Resistance to Jan. 6 House Committee
"Why do you think so few in your party seem to want to take this seriously and get to the bottom of happened on Jan. 6?" Tapper asked the Pennsylvania senator.On State of the Union Sunday, Tapper asked the Republican senator on why there are not many in the GOP who want to treat the matter as a priority.
As Donald Trump and his allies on the right look to rewrite the history of Jan. 6, the riot suspects still in jail are being reimagined as victims of a vengeful deep state, imprisoned not because they’re awaiting trial for alleged crimes but because of their love of country and Trump.
Many of the accused rioters have been released from jail ahead of trial. But those who remain behind bars have become a key rallying point this summer for Trump supporters, amid lurid allegations about their supposed mistreatment.
While some right-wing media outlets and politicians initially dismissed many of the suspects as rogue troublemakers who didn’t represent the larger Trump movement, the alleged rioters have now become its champions, and are frequently referred to as “political prisoners” on pro-Trump cable channels Newsmax and One America News.
Assault of the Capitol: Opening of the House of Representatives Inquiry
© Reuters - Leah Millis On January 6, 2021, supporters of the outgoing President Donald Trump storm the Capitol, which houses the two parliamentary chambers American. In the United States, the House of Representative Inquiry Commission on the Capitol attack begins its hearings on Tuesday. A commission that caused lived divisions between Democrats and Republicans.
The effort to paint the jailed defendants as victims of law enforcement recalls recent campaigns by Trump and his supporters to position Ashli Babbitt, the QAnon believer shot dead by Capitol Police, as an unjustly slain martyr. While Babbitt’s cause was initially embraced after her death only by far-right extremists, leading Republicans, including Trump, havefor the officer who shot Babbitt to be named.
The prisoners’ treatment in jail as a conservative cause célèbre is set to get a boost on Tuesday, when a coterie of conservative Republican lawmakers, including Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), rally in front of the Justice Department to demand more information about the prisoners’ status and the release of all surveillance footage from the riot.
“We 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,” Gaetz and Greene, joined by Reps. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX) wrote in a letter asking for a meeting with Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Tucker Scoffs at D.C. Cop Scarred by Capitol Riot From Safety of His Studio
Fox News host Tucker Carlson took his overt downplaying of the Capitol insurrection to a new low on Tuesday night, literally laughing at an officer who had described the vicious beating he suffered that day and the psychological trauma that followed in congressional testimony. Carlson, who has routinely dismissed the violence that occurred during the deadly riot as nothing more than a “political protest that got out of hand,” took aim at the Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone and the three Capitol police officers who emotionally testified about the brutality they witnessed at Tuesday’s hearing before the Jan. 6 House Select Committee.
The press conference is scheduled for the same day four police officers who were attacked on Jan. 6 are scheduled to testify in front of a House select committee dedicated to examining the day the Capitol was stormed.
Greene, a one-time supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory, has become a major player in the effort to reframe the defendants, describing them as “political prisoners of war” in a July 20 appearance on Newsmax.
The prisoners’ cause gained more traction on the right after an incendiary Newsmaxon July 22 by attorney Joseph McBride, the lawyer for defendant Richard “Bigo” Barnett—the Arkansas man who became in the aftermath of the riot after he put his feet on a desk in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office. In the interview, McBride claimed, without offering evidence, that his client had been subjected to coordinated group assaults by guards before he was in April pending trial.
“He was beaten, he was dragged, he was hog-tied,” McBride said. “At one time, his pants dropped below his ankles exposing his private parts while he was taking a beating in front of a female officer, and he had to beg and plead to be able to pull his pants up out of embarrassment.”
Laura Ingraham Mocks Police Testimony on January 6 With 'Best Performance' Awards
"God save us from these third-rate theatrics," said the Fox News host after officers testified before the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot.Ingraham, host of the network's The Ingraham Angle, gave those present at Tuesday's hearing mock awards for their "performances," including the police officers who were present at the riot.
“The more I hear, the more this sounds like Gitmo,” Newsmax host Greg Kelly said.
McBride’s allegations have since been widely cited in right-wing media outlets, and are mentioned in the Republican lawmakers’ letter to Garland.
McBride and the D.C. Department of Corrections didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The effort to reframe the rioters as heroes has also spawned a series of small rallies in their defense. On Sunday, a group calling itself “Citizens Against Political Prosecution” organized a rally in New York City for the defendants. Steven Metcalf, one of the attorneys representing riot suspects, called the place where they were held the “D.C-slash-Gitmo Jail” and claimed one of his clients had such poor hygiene in the jail, Metcalf had compared him to Tom Hanks in the movie Castaway.
At an earlier rally on July 17, roughly 100 people met in front of the D.C. jail to call for the defendants’ release.
The event was organized by Matt Braynard, a former Trump campaign worker who gained notoriety and someby claiming he had found proof of election fraud. Braynard’s election fraud claims were later by state elections officials.
Speakers at the rally read letters from the inmates, which tried to portray the suspects as innocent casualties of a supposed government war on Trump supporters.
“We are just regular freedom loving Americans, with a tendency towards humorous shenanigans,” one inmate’s letter read.
He Repped Kyle Rittenhouse, MAGA Monkey Owners… and Capitol Rioters .
The U.S. Capitol riot launched one of the largest investigations in Justice Department history, with hundreds of defendants now facing charges. But the lawyer who’s put himself at the center of nearly 20 of the legal defenses has plenty of problems of his own—from a bizarre legal strategy and looming debts to a struggling case defending a handful of chimpanzees. Once a high-flying civil attorney, lawyer John Pierce has reinvented himself, in the face of mountains of debt, as a go-to lawyer for conservative causes célèbres.