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The Perplexing Tour of the D.C. Jail: Republicans Investigate Conditions of Jan. 6 Defendants

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia, arranged a tour of the D.C. jail to inspect the conditions of defendants charged in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Democrats had to decide whether to boycott or participate in the tour. After a roughly two-hour tour of the jail, when Greene finished her remarks to news reporters gathered outside, Representative Jasmine Crockett, a Democrat from Texas, stepped up to the microphones. Crockett, a former public defender, said, “Somebody’s got to be here to tell the truth. If we weren’t here, there would be no check for whatever it was that they said.”

Crockett noted that inmates faced much harsher conditions in Texas and Arkansas jails than those of the nearly two dozen defendants at the D.C. facility charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack. Crockett added that the January 6th defendants would not want to go the other way. House Republicans opened an investigation into whether people charged with crimes in connection with the Jan. 6 attack had been mistreated at the D.C. jail. Ms. Greene wrote a report in 2021 about poor conditions at the jail and carries significant influence among House Republicans.

Ms. Greene and fellow Republicans emerged from the facility Friday afternoon to a raucous scene with a handful of noisy protesters. Ms. Greene’s spokesman at one point covered his ears as he tried to block a protester from approaching her. Ms. Greene decried a “two-tier justice system” in which the Jan. 6 defendants were treated like “political prisoners.”

Representative Anna Paulina Luna, a Republican from Florida, credited the Republican-led tour with the improved cleanliness of the facility: “They said in the last month or so, since we took back Congress, that it’s gotten better,” Ms. Luna said, referring to the detainees. “But they said they cleaned it up nicely in the last few days since they knew that we were coming.”

Seventeen of the 20 defendants held at the D.C. jail on charges related to Jan. 6 are accused of assaulting law enforcement officers during the Capitol attack. Under a different strategy, Democrats might have opted out of the tour, choosing to ignore an event many on the left viewed as a stunt. But Representative Robert Garcia of California said that Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, had asked him to attend to “ensure there is a fair representation of what happened.”

Ms. Greene wrote to the D.C. mayor, Muriel Bowser, earlier this month seeking all documents and communications about the Jan. 6 detainees’ complaints regarding the conditions. The investigation comes as Republicans, two years after the mob attack at the Capitol, have split over the issue, with many in the party wanting to move on, viewing the riot as a political liability, while a louder group pushes to relitigate it. Many in the party’s hard-right base believe the rioters were justified in standing up against an election former President Donald J. Trump falsely claims was stolen.

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