Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) on Thursday compared a 2016 congressional sit-in led by the late civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
It was just the latest in Republican attempts to minimize the mob attack on Congress earlier this year. But it was an especially extreme example: Lewis led the day-long sit-in in the House chamber, joined by several other lawmakers, to build pressure for gun control legislation.
“Where is the heart of this body?” Lewis said in a speech at the start of the sit-in, which came a few days after the Orlando nightclub mass shooting that left 49 people dead. “Where is our soul? Where is our moral leadership? Where is our courage?”
The members of Congress who participated in the sit-in, Gohmert told Attorney General Merrick Garland in a hearing, actually committed the crime of which so many Capitol attackers now stand accused: Obstructing an official proceeding.
“On June 22 of 2016, judge, most of the Democrat members of Congress took over the House floor, and, for the first time in American history, members of Congress obstructed official proceedings,” Gohmert said.
“Not for 4 to 6 hours, but for virtually 26 hours,” he continued. “Not just violating over a dozen House rules, but actually committing the felony that some of the Jan. 6 people are charged with.”
Gohmert noted that “nobody has been charged” for the sit-in, despite Jan. 6 defendants being “viciously” prosecuted for the same thing.
“Tho se kinds of things — where you let Democrat members of Congress off for the very thing that you’re viciously going after people that were protesting on Jan. 6 — gives people the indication that there is a two-tiered justice system here in America,” the congressman said.
Later in the hearing of the House Judiciary Committee Thursday, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) called Gohmert’s comparison “disgraceful.”
The bizarre comparison came just a day after a spokesperson for Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) acknowledged that Johnson was holding up a Justice Department nomination — Biden’s pick to be the top federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., Matthew Graves — over yet another false equivalence to Jan. 6.
Johnson is one of several authors of a June letter to the DOJ expressing “concerns regarding potential unequal justice administered in response to other recent instances of mass unrest, destruction, and loss of life throughout the United States” — specifically the 2020 Black Lives Matter demonstrations that occurred nationwide following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Johnson’s spokesperson told Business Insider that the hold on Graves’ nomination was meant to pressure the DOJ to respond to the senators’ June letter.