Protesters shut down Greene-Gaetz Jan. 6 event

A news conference held by a coalition of House GOP firebrands was cut short Tuesday after a group of counterprotesters gathered behind the lawmakers.

The Republican lawmakers had gathered Tuesday to press the Department of Justice (DOJ) for a status report on individuals arrested following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, who they referred to as “political prisoners.”

But they were repeatedly interrupted and eventually ended the event after counterprotesters got too close to the speakers.

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The coalition of lawmakers, led by Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertRepublicans keep distance from 'Justice for J6' rally Security forces under pressure to prevent repeat of Jan. 6 Washington ramps up security ahead of Sept. 18 rally MORE (Texas) and Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarDomestic extremists return to the Capitol Republicans keep distance from 'Justice for J6' rally Washington ramps up security ahead of Sept. 18 rally MORE (Ariz.), were holding a news conference outside the DOJ to protest the treatment of individuals arrested in connection to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, when counterprotesters arrived on the scene.

One protester repeatedly blew a whistle during the event, and other demonstrators were holding signs that read “Jan 6th was an inside job, vets for democrats” and “Traitors + Rapists: Sit Down,” the latter likely referring to Gaetz, who is under investigation for an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.

Greene addressed the demonstrations taking place during the news conference, saying, “To the guy that’s blowing the whistle: we are not deterred.”

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“And so for anyone that's here, being an activist and yelling today, here's the statement that I need everyone to understand: we will not back down, we will not stop asking questions, we are looking for the truth. And we believe the truth can be found by reaching out and answering and asking the right questions to the right people,” she added.

Moments later, an unidentified man who appeared to be holding back the protesters, which were inching closer to the lawmakers, said the event had to end.

“The left is interrupting the press conference, we need to end it,” the man announced, as protesters gathered behind the lawmakers with signs.

As the Republicans left the microphones at the DOJ, the protesters followed them down the street.

The lawmakers gathered to press the DOJ to provide information on a number of questions, particularly regarding the treatment of those who have been arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 riot.

Members claimed the defendants have been treated unfairly, and that the DOJ has provided scant details on their conditions and situations.

“I, too, am happy to join my Republican colleagues and demand the answers to the very troubling reports that the Biden administration and Justice Department are mistreating nonviolent prisoners in connection with Jan. 6,” Gosar said.

He claimed that there are “disturbing reports” of some prisoners being abused and held in solitary confinement for as many 23 hours a day.

“These are not unruly or dangerous, violent criminals, these are political prisoners who are now being persecuted during the pain of unjust suffering,” he added.

Gohmert sounded a similar note, saying he was speaking out “to make sure that we have due process, that people that are brought to trial have an opportunity to have a fair trial, to get due process and see the evidence against them, and to actually see any exonerating evidence.”

The fiery press conference occurred at the same time police officers were testifying on Capitol Hill before the Jan. 6 select committee that is probing the insurrection. That hearing, where one police officer described the rioters as "terrorists," offered a starkly different illustration of the events that unfolded on Jan. 6 from the one the Republicans described at the DOJ.  

The Republican event at the DOJ came after Greene, Gaetz, Gohmert and Gosar penned a letter to Attorney General Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandBipartisan senators to hold hearing on 'toxic conservatorships' amid Britney Spears controversy DOJ sues to block JetBlue-American Airlines partnership Texas sues Biden administration over guidance on transgender worker rights MORE on Saturday requesting information about the status of Jan. 6 defendants and related investigations.

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The lawmakers said they were holding a press conference at the DOJ because Garland had not responded to their request.

“We're here today demanding answers to serious questions that the Department of Justice has ignored over these past several months despite repeated inquiries from my colleagues and other members of Congress regarding the treatment of the Jan. 6 defendants,” Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) said at the news conference.

“In this country, there should be no question about the legal treatment of an American prior to their opportunity to answer the charges brought against them before a judge or a jury of their peers. Due process must be afforded to all Americans, period,” he added.