Ranking Member Raskin’s Statement Ahead of MAGA Republican Led Visit of Insurrectionists
Washington, D.C. (March 24, 2023)—Today, Rep. Jamie Raskin, Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, issued the following statement ahead of Congressional Republicans’ visit of insurrectionists who assaulted law enforcement officers at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2020:
“Rep. Andrew Clyde famously likened the January 6th insurrectionary violence to a ‘normal tourist visit.’ Today, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green and her MAGA army will lead an abnormal tourist visit of their own to the D.C. Jail in a desperate attempt to whitewash the crimes of 20 incarcerated January 6 insurrectionists, 17 of them charged with violently assaulting federal officers and 9 of them already convicted of that crime or other equally serious offenses.
“The problem of prison conditions in America is, of course, a serious one which is why Democrats on the Oversight Committee have been working to bring transparency and reform to the Rikers Island facilities in New York where 19 inmates died in 2022—the highest death rate at Rikers in a quarter century. Alas, we have had no interest from our GOP colleagues in joining us in this endeavor or any similar efforts to improve dangerous and horrid jail and prison conditions.
“Today’s tour has nothing to do with objectively examining or improving jail conditions, which in the District of Columbia’s modernized Central Treatment Facility where the January 6 defendants are housed, are reportedly and by all accounts above average.
“Rather, this tour is part of a continuing bizarre effort by Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Andrew Clyde and the controlling MAGA faction in the Republican Conference to depict the January 6th rioters, assailants and insurrectionist ringleaders now in jail as ‘political prisoners’ or even as ‘political prisoners of war’ and to facilitate their release through political pressure and to get them pardoned by a future Trump Administration.
“Andrei Sakhorov and Alexander Solzhenitsyn were political prisoners in the totalitarian dungeons of the Soviet Union. Nelson Mandela was a political prisoner on Robben Island in the vicious penal system of apartheid South Africa. Alexei Navalny, who war criminal Vladimir Putin tried to poison, is a political prisoner today in Putin’s autocratic regime. These people did nothing other than oppose the lawlessness and rotten policies of the authoritarian regimes in which they lived.
“The 20 prisoners in the Central Treatment Facility are not political prisoners but accused or convicted violent criminals whose violence was part of an effort to overthrow a federal election and defeat the processes of constitutional democracy. Seventeen of them have been charged with violently assaulting federal officers and nine of them have already pleaded guilty or been convicted of that offense or of equivalently serious offenses. Charges against the January 6 defendants include assaulting federal officers with a deadly weapon, impeding federal officers with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to disrupt a federal proceeding and seditious conspiracy.
“If Representatives Greene, Comer and Boebert believe even one of these convicts or suspects is an actual political prisoner, they should name the person and describe why they are not properly being tried by the United States Department of Justice for their crimes but are rather being held for ideological reasons. So far they have failed to name a single prisoner who is being falsely held or unjustly accused. The claim that this group is made up of ‘political prisoners’ is plainly false and obscene.
“Furthermore, these prisoners are being housed in what is, by far, the superior of the District of Columbia’s two facilities and enjoy access to resources which most inmates in America are denied. Indeed, the mostly black and brown inmates housed in the dilapidated and inferior Central Detention Facility are eager to get moved into the more modern, spacious and comfortable Central Treatment Facility where the January 6 defendants and convicts now reside.
“The outrageous claim that the January 6 defendants are political prisoners and have been subjected to inferior treatment is a fraud.”