Just as the House select committee on Jan. 6 wrapped up its first hearing Thursday, a handful of Trump’s greatest Big Lie adherents attempted to hold a press conference outside the DOJ to call out the treatment of jailed insurrectionists, whom they deem “political prisoners.”
It didn’t last long.
The press conference featured Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Bob Good (R-VA) — most of Trump’s closest election overturning allies. It was seemingly designed to distract from the Jan. 6 committee hearing, but also to urge the attorney general to address the jailing of those who have been charged with crimes for the insurrection. The group sent a letter requesting to meet with Attorney General Merrick Garland last week to discuss the status of these so-called “political prisoners.”
But the publicity stunt appeared doomed from the start as an unidentified person in the crowd repeatedly blew a whistle as the GOP lawmakers took the podium. Protesters continued holding signs and making noise throughout the briefing, but the four-some attempted to carry on.
“Are we housing political prisoners?” Gohmert asked during the presser.
Gosar soon parroted Gohmert’s rhetoric.
“These are not unruly or dangerous violent criminals. These are political prisoners, prisoners who are now being persecuted,” Gosar said.
After Gaetz complained about “antifa and Black Lives Matter protesters setting fire to the country” and Biggs offered the revisionist take of calling the mob that stormed the Capitol “peaceful protesters,” Greene narrowed in on the whistling protester — who made the GOP lawmakers’ remarks nearly inaudible for most of the press conference.
“To the guy blowing the whistle, we are not deterred,” Greene declared.
But they were.
The presser came to a halt once it became clear that the protesters who held signs that read, “traitors and rapists sit down” and “pedophiles for Trump,” weren’t going anywhere.
Video of the press conference shows a staffer shutting it down as the lawmakers wrap up their remarks, saying “we need to end it.” The group didn’t take any questions and Gaetz and Greene were seen trying to swiftly leave the scene.
A video filmed after the presser ended shows protesters screaming at Gaetz, who is under investigation by the Justice Department for alleged sex trafficking of an underage woman: “are you a pedophile?”
The Republican lawmakers’ failed press conference served as an attempt at counter programming to the emotional testimony of Capitol and DC police officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6.
It wasn’t the only GOP effort to distract from the Jan. 6 select committee’s hearing on Tuesday. Shortly before the hearing got underway, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and fellow Republicans held a separate press conference, attempting to shift blame for the insurrection to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
The group’s focus on the so-called mistreatment of Jan. 6 prisoners feeds into former President Trump and his allies’ attempts to shift the narrative surrounding the Capitol insurrection ahead of the next year’s midterm elections.
Watch the scene below:
Well that was weird pic.twitter.com/ooqnMiy6WD
— Acyn (@Acyn) July 27, 2021