During a House Oversight committee hearing Tuesday, several Republicans spent their speaking time expressing concern for a specific group of people involved in the January 6 attack: the insurrectionists themselves.
Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) was preoccupied with whether any insurrectionists were being held in solitary confinement, pressing FBI Director Christopher Wray on the matter.
“I am troubled that reportedly dozens of individuals from the January 6 riots have been held without bond in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day,” Hice said, noting that “even Elizabeth Warren” called that form of punishment “cruel and psychologically damaging.”
He asked Wray how many insurrectionists were currently held in isolation.
“I don’t know the number that would be held in those conditions,” Wray responded, adding that it’s a “decision made by the court” and that “I don’t keep up on the terms of confinement or detention.”
“There’s a great deal of concern with this,” Hice asserted, before moving on to ask why there haven’t been investigations into the Black Lives Matter protests from last summer.
Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) took a slightly different tack a few questions later, sowing doubt that some of the people arrested for participating in the insurrection had been innocent bystanders who simply wandered into the building.
“How many people were in the Capitol that day, I mean members of the public?” Grothman asked, looking around. “Does anyone know the answer to the question?”
He threw out numbers like 1,100 and 800, painting a picture of a Capitol buzzing with legions of tourists and visitors. In reality, the Capitol was closed to the public amid the COVID-19 pandemic back in March 2020, and is only now slowly reopening to guests of lawmakers and staff.
“I am under the impression that day, that there are people who clearly, horrifically did wrong things,” he said, mentioning rioters breaking windows to gain entry. “But we also remember seeing people on TV that day that were almost let in the Capitol.”
He went on that perhaps the Capitol police, out of “exhaustion,” just let them into the building.
“People back home are concerned about a certain class of person,” he said. “Were there people allowed in the Capitol that didn’t engage in any physical confrontation or do any damage, and just wound up in the Capitol — breaking the law, but they have no way of knowing if they’re breaking the law?”
Wray pointed out that those who have been prosecuted were found to have violated criminal law, though Grothman waved him off and asked the question again.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), in the same vein, asked Wray whether any insurrectionists are being “held in jail without due process.”
His fellow Arizonian Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) chimed in a few questions later, demanding to know who “executed Ashli Babbitt,” the Trump supporter fatally shot by police as she tried to climb through a window into the lobby leading to the House floor, where members were gathered as the insurrection began. Veneration of Babbitt as a martyr began immediately after the insurrection in MAGA circles; some supporters briefly hijacked her Wikipedia page in an attempt to connect her to #SayHerName, a hashtag associated particularly with Black women killed by police.
“Do you approve of the use of lethal force against unarmed citizens, particularly a 110-pound woman with no warning, no use of non-lethal force prior, while lying in wait?” Gosar asked very quickly.
Arms crossed, Wray leaned forward. “I’m not gonna try to answer a hypothetical,” he said.