Republican Lawmakers Call on Garland to Address Concerns About Aggressive Prosecutions of January 6th Defendants


Republican lawmakers are urging Attorney General Merrick Garland to address concerns over the “aggressive prosecutions” of what Donald Trump and others have termed “political prisoners.”

Reps. Chip Roy (R-TX), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), and Thomas Massie (R-KY) wrote to Garland late Monday regarding the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) “aggressive prosecutions of American citizens who were at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021,” noted as “the largest criminal investigation in American history.”

Their letter precedes Garland’s testimony Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee in a highly-anticipated DOJ oversight hearing.

The letter states that while many of the 1,200 prosecutions related to January 6 are “meritorious and appropriate,” numerous individuals ensnared in the investigations “committed no crime or have been overcharged.” The Republicans are utilizing their constitutional oversight authority to request a detailed breakdown of those charged by the DOJ.

They write:

To facilitate our oversight, we request that the Department provide a detailed and comprehensive breakdown—beyond what is publicly available—of the name[s] of the individuals prosecuted, whether they were charged with committing violent or non-violent crimes, the specific charges against them, what offenses they ultimately pleaded guilty to violating, and the sentencing requests and sentences received and how they compare with non-January 6 defendants who pleaded guilty to the same criminal offenses.

Roy, Biggs, and Massie outline their multiple requests for information and briefings on the issue, which have largely been ignored. They state that their oversight requests come “at a critical time as other reports emerged about potential mistreatment of defendants in federal custody, such as retaliation by detention officers, housing inmates in unsanitary holding cells, providing poor food quality, and subjecting individuals to humiliating punishments.”

Crucially, the letter underscores that “other investigations have suggested the FBI’s possible involvement in facilitating the events of January 6.”

The three Republicans each chair Judiciary subcommittees: Roy chairs the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government, Biggs chairs the Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance, and Massie leads the Subcommittee on the Administrative State, Regulatory Reform, and Antitrust.

Bradley Jaye
Bradley Jaye
Political reporter.

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