House Republicans say they plan to visit Jan. 6 defendants in jail

Marjorie Taylor Greene claims she's received "reports of abuse."

March 23, 2023, 12:16 PM

Republicans on the House Oversight Committee plan on Friday to visit with some defendants who are being held in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a member of the oversight panel, announced the date in a tweet on Wednesday. No other details were immediately available and while Greene claimed the group of lawmakers would be "bipartisan," it's unclear which if any Democrats will join.

Greene and House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer of Kentucky told ABC News earlier this month that the committee planned to send a letter to lawmakers regarding the planned visit to the Washington, D.C., detention facility.

Greene said then that the visit would focus on the conditions of those jailed over Jan. 6, including what she claimed to be "reports of abuse."

"They're pretrial and they haven't even been convicted and they're not allowed to see their families, many times are not allowed to see their attorneys -- the food has been a major complaint," Greene alleged. "There's been complaints of it tasting like cleaner."

The vast majority of defendants charged in connection with Jan. 6 have not been ordered to be detained pending trial, but in the several dozen cases where individuals have been held, a judge has determined that there's no combination of conditions that could be placed on them to ensure that they either wouldn't pose a danger to the general public or risk obstructing justice in their case.

"As of today, approximately two dozen defendants, charged in the Capitol breach, are being held in pretrial detention," a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office in D.C. told ABC News earlier this month. "Almost all of those detainees are charged with assaultive conduct and none are charged with a misdemeanor."

In late 2021, the U.S. Marshals Service conducted an inspection of the D.C. jail's Central Detention Facility -- a separate facility from where the Jan. 6 defendants have been detained -- and said they would relocate roughly 400 inmates to a separate jail in Pennsylvania after finding the conditions there did not meet minimum federal standards.

An inspection of the facility holding the Jan. 6 defendants, however, "did not identify conditions that would necessitate the transfer of inmates," the Marshals Service said in 2021.

PHOTO: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green speaks during a House Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing in Washington, Feb. 8, 2023.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green speaks during a House Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing in Washington, Feb. 8, 2023.
Anna Rose Layden/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Greene has visited some Jan. 6 defendants in jail before, where she saw they were "suffering greatly," she said in 2021.

She was criticized in December for what she said was a "sarcastic joke" about the riot at the Capitol: "If Steve Bannon and I had organized that, we would have won. ... Not to mention, it would've been armed."

She said in early March that the jail visit would be open to members outside of the Oversight Committee.

"We're gonna try and see what it looks like … that's part of what the Oversight Committee does with everything pertaining to the federal government, so we have some members that are going to hopefully tour that prison," Comer told reporters then.

The Oversight Committee's ranking Democratic member, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, previously responded to the planned visit in a statement to ABC News, saying earlier in March that "the treatment of detained individuals in facilities across the country is an important subject for Congressional oversight. That's why last Congress Oversight Democrats pressed for answers on the deteriorating conditions at Rikers Island in New York, for example."

"Our GOP colleagues' sudden and selective sympathy for January 6 insurrectionists reflects their continuing effort to lionize the violent attempt to overthrow the 2020 presidential election," Raskin contended.

News of the jail trip first came as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy faced bipartisan backlash over exclusively sharing security footage from Jan. 6 with Fox News' Tucker Carlson, who used the clips to try and downplay the Capitol attack -- drawing a rebuke from the Capitol Police chief. McCarthy said he released the video in the interest of "transparency."

The Department of Justice said this month that at least 1,000 people have been charged in connection with the Capitol assault, which sent lawmakers briefly into hiding. One of the people who breached the building, Ashli Babbitt, was also fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer.