A group of Republican senators wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday to say rioters prosecuted on Jan. 6 could be given “unequal justice” — and called for similar treatment of those who clashed with police during protests sparked. by the death of George Floyd last summer.
The senators did not defend the rioters who stormed the Capitol during the counting of the electoral votes, saying they “fully support” the prosecution of those who participated. But they questioned what they labeled an inequality and demanded information from the DOJ about the tactics the authorities used to take down rioters in the Capitol, while seeking similar information about last summer’s protests that sometimes turned violent.
“The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is currently devoting enormous resources and manpower to investigating and prosecuting the criminals who violated the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. We support and appreciate the efforts of the DOJ and its federal, state and local law enforcement partners to fully hold those responsible to account,” the senators wrote to Garland.
A crowd of supporters of then-US President Donald Trump climb through a window they broke when they stormed the US Capitol in Washington, US, on January 6, 2021. A group of Republican senators wrote to AG Merrick Garland to say there was “unequal justice” in the treatment of people who took part in “mass unrest” last summer and those who stormed the Capitol.
The complaint of “unequal” prosecutions comes as some Republicans have tried to soften the melee that took place at the Capitol, with Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) compared rioters to those on a “normal tourist visit.”
But they pointed to people who “used peaceful protests across the country to participate in riots and other crimes that resulted in loss of life, injuries to law enforcement officers and significant property damage.”
It was a reference to clashes between protesters and police in Portland, Seattle and other US cities in the spring and summer.
“A federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon has been under effective siege for months. Property destruction as a result of the 2020 social justice protests across the country will reportedly result in at least $1 billion to $2 billion in paid insurance claims,” they wrote.
Senators sought information on protest arrests this summer
They sought information about “mass unrest, destruction and loss of life in the United States” in the spring and summer of 2020
sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., likened the April riots to a ‘peaceful protest’
The letter is signed by Rick Scott (l), Ron Johnson (second from l) and Tommy Tuberville (r), all Republican senators
“We join all Americans in the expectation that the DOJ’s response to the events of January 6 will result in justifiable criminal charges and liability,” Senators Garland wrote.
Among them were Sens. Ron Johnson from Wisconsin, Tommy Tuberville from Alabama, Mike Lee from Utah, Rick Scott from Florida and Ted Cruz from Texas.
Tuberville has said he spoke by phone with former President Trump on Jan. 6. He says he informed Trump that Secret Service agents had removed former Vice President Mike Pence from the building — a sign of how risky the event had become. The episode was featured in the impeachment debate.
‘Mr. President, they’ve taken out the vice president. They want me to leave, I have to go,” Tuberville told Trump, who insisted in weekend remarks that he was the victim of voter fraud. He said 2020 would be “the crime of the century.”
Scott, who heads the GOP’s Senate campaigning arm, went to Mar-a-Lago last spring to present Trump a new “Champion of Freedom” award.
Johnson compared January 6 to a “peaceful protest” in comments on Fox News.
“Even if it was an uprising, it wasn’t,” Johnson said in April. “You know, I’ve convicted the offense. I condemned the violence, but to say that there were thousands of armed insurgents who broke through the Capitol with the intent to overthrow the government is simply a false story.”
The senators wrote to Garland: “As you know, the mission of the DOJ includes ensuring a fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans. Today we are writing to request information about our concerns about possible unequal justice in response to other recent cases of mass unrest, destruction and loss of life in the United States.”
The senators asked a series of questions that seemed to emphasize tough police tactics.
“Has federal law enforcement used geolocation data from suspects’ cell phones to track protesters linked to the unrest in the spring and summer of 2020? If so, how often and for which locations/riots?’ they asked.
How many individuals who may have committed crimes related to protests in the spring and summer of 2020 have been arrested by law enforcement officers using pre-dawn raids and SWAT teams?
“How many people have been incarcerated for alleged crimes related to protests in the spring and summer of 2020?”
“How many of these individuals are or have been placed in solitary confinement? What was the average number of consecutive days such individuals were in solitary confinement?’
“How many of these people have been released on bail?” they asked Garland.
They asked the same set of questions about the Capitol riots — where a series of indictments contained snippets of information about how law enforcement officers tracked down people who had broken into the Capitol despite making few arrests on Jan. 6, when a mob overwhelmed police.