House Republicans tour DC jail where Jan. 6 defendants held

GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene claims the defendants are being mistreated.

March 24, 2023, 7:09 PM

Republican members of the House Oversight Committee and two Democrats toured a Washington, D.C., jail on Friday where some Jan. 6 defendants are being held.

The congressional delegation was led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., one of the most vocal critics of the detainment of individuals charged in connection with the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Speaking with ABC News earlier this week, Greene said the visit would focus on the conditions of those being jailed, including what Greene claimed to be "reports of abuse."

Greene claimed those being held pretrial are "not allowed to see their families, many times are not allowed to see their attorneys" and that "the food has been a major complaint. There's been complaints of it tasting like cleaner."

On Friday, Republican and Democratic members emerged after just over two hours with widely different views on what they saw regarding the conditions inside.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene talks to the media along with Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, Rep. Byron Donalds, and Rep. Mike Collins at the DC Department of Corrections on March 24, 2023, in Washington, D.C.
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Congressional Integrity Project

"What we saw today is exactly what we've known all along: we have a two-tier justice system," Greene said at a news conference, amid the blaring sound of a whistle being blown by a protester.

She said that the inmates had to "clean the entire area" and "buff the floors" ahead of the tour.

And Greene -- who has continued to falsely downplay the attack on the Capitol -- again claimed it was not an insurrection, after saying last year if she had run the Jan. 6 assault "we would have won."

However, her Democratic colleagues, who also went inside the jail, described the conditions inside in very different terms, saying defendants were being treated "fairly" given the seriousness of their alleged crimes.

"They are outside their cells most of the day. They have entertainment tablets. They can text their family all day on these tablets, they can watch movies, they can watch entertainment, they can listen to music, and, and have 24-hour-a-day medical care," freshman Democrat Rep. Robert Garcia of California told ABC News when asked about what he saw.

Another Democrat who joined the tour, Rep. Jasmine Crockett of Texas, said she learned that Jan. 6 defendants had access to technology they used to record music.

"They have their own cells, they have access to laptops and tablets. I mean, it's unlike anything that I've ever seen. And like I said, coming out of Texas, I have seen so much worse,” Crockett said. Crockett served as a public defender and civil rights attorney before being elected to Congress last fall.

Most people charged with a crime in relation to the Jan. 6 attack have been released as they await trial. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office in D.C. told ABC News earlier this month that there were "approximately two dozen defendants" in pre-trial detention and nearly all of them were charged with assaultive conduct.

Greene and House Oversight Chairman James Comer sent a letter to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser pressing her for documents and communications regarding Jan. 6 detainees' complaints.

The jail tour came amid a wave of activity from House Republicans regarding Jan. 6 since they took over the chamber in January. They've created a committee to investigate alleged security failures and the previous House Jan. 6 committee's work.