Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) is working with House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) to schedule a trip for members of Congress to visit the Washington, D.C., jail where Jan. 6 defendants are being held.
Greene, who has previously toured the jail where those charged with crimes relating to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack are held, is leading the effort.
A letter to start the process of scheduling the visit is expected to be released on Thursday, both Greene and Comer said. Greene added the letter will probably be addressed to “multiple people” so the group can “let them know that we’re coming.”
Comer said that he is working with Greene on the letter just as he would with any other member of his committee on matters they are interested in.
“We’re going to be addressing the human rights abuse, such as the fact that they’ve been held in solitary confinement up to 23 hours a day, denied the ability to see their families,” Greene said, also alleging “non-working toilets” and issues receiving medical treatment.
Greene and some other Republicans have long decried the conditions at the D.C. facility and questioned why the defendants are being held without bail.
Last year, around three dozen Jan. 6 detainees requested to be transferred to the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, alleging “black mold” in the facility and “worms” in their food.
Asked about the trip in a press conference on Wednesday, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) said he did not know whether there would be a trip and turned focus to committees “looking at some of these agencies that abused their power.”
News of the planning surfaced as Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s Monday airing of Jan. 6 Capitol security footage, provided to him by Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), sparked bipartisan outrage on Capitol Hill. Carlson downplayed the violence on Jan. 6 and described it as “mostly peaceful chaos.”
Greene has praised Carlson’s airing of the footage but said the Fox News program did not rev up her push for a visit to the jail, which she says she has been working on since the last Congress.
Greene visited what she called the “patriot wing” of the D.C. Department of Corrections in November 2021, taking a tour and speaking directly with Jan. 6 defendants. Her office at the time said she was granted access to the location following “months of requesting access with letter and letter and call after call.”
She said she has tried to return to the jail “many times” since her initial visit — sending a number of letters to the mayor’s office — but was unable to secure access.
Comer is not sure if he will attend.
“It’s not high on my list. We’ll see what my schedule looks like,” Comer said.
But other Republicans are expected to accompany Greene when she can schedule a visit.
“I will tell you, she started talking to people yesterday about it, and there are a lot of members that have expressed an interest in going with her to that prison – more than I would have first anticipated,” Comer said.
The trip will be open to any member of Congress, Democrat or Republican, Comer said.
“Hopefully, the Democrats on the committee will come. I think everybody should go there,” Greene said.
In a statement on Wednesday, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the ranking member of the Oversight Committee, suggested that the GOP effort to visit the D.C. jail was an attempt to “lionize” the Capitol riot.
“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,” Raskin said in a statement. “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.”
Despite organizing the effort and previously visiting the institution, Greene said she does not keep in contact with the Jan. 6 defendants because she does not believe that would be “appropriate.”
“I don’t get involved with them, I don’t talk to them, I’m not involved in their cases because I don’t believe that’s the appropriate role for me,” Greene said when asked how many Jan. 6 defendants she is in touch with. “So I don’t share fundraisers or anything like that, or any, in any way, so I don’t know them personally. But they send letters to my office, people reach out, people tell me a lot of things about it.”
— Updated 9:05 p.m.