Jul 29, 2021
Marjorie Taylor Greene & Matt Gaetz Press Conference After Trying to See January 6 Prisoners
GOP Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, Louie Gohmert and Paul Gosar held a press conference on July 29. 2021 after being denied a tour of the federal prison where January 6th prisoners were being held. Read the transcript here.
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Marjorie Taylor Greene: (00:34)
We need to get started because we’re going to be called to vote. So you start.
Louie Gohmert: (00:44)
Okay. So follow [inaudible 00:00:45].
Marjorie Taylor Greene: (00:45)
Louie Gohmert: (00:48)
All right. Thank you for being here. We just had four members go down to, it’s not the DC jail, it’s the facility, detention facility, that’s part of the Federal Bureau of Prisons where perhaps 50 or so people from January six are being held. We don’t want to intervene in any specific case, but we had gotten reports that federal facilities were mistreating, abusing people that had been arrested on January six, having been to Guantanamo more than once. I know that the people there, just from what little we saw from the outside, they’re being treated worse there than the bloodthirsty terrorists at Guantanamo. It is really outrageous. So we wanted to see. I’ve toured many facilities back in Texas. I’ll get invitations to come to a facility, even if they’re state. As a felony judge, I toured jails and prisons. It was, I felt, part of my job as a member of Congress.
Louie Gohmert: (02:04)
I’ve toured prisons before. It’s no big deal. Normally, those in charge of a federal prison facility or jail detention facility, they’re glad to have you see, because they don’t want any stories about unfair treatment that are unfounded. The way you get rid of that is to allow people to see what you’re doing.
Louie Gohmert: (02:30)
So we went down there and we went in, showed our IDs, asked to see the facilities, wanted a tour, and we were willing to wait. We knew it would be difficult, but since they have refused to respond, at all, to our letters, to our requests, then it creates more concern. So we go down and we just say, “We want to see, we want a tour.” And eventually after a long wait, we were told, “Oh, you’ve got to put a mask on.” Fine. We all put on masks. And then eventually a lady came out, in uniform, and said, “Well, you’re trespassing. You got to get out.”
Louie Gohmert: (03:22)
And I said, “Trespassing, where’d you get that?” We’ve got these federal congressional ideas. We’re the ones that have oversight over you. We’re the ones that have to vote to whether we keep this facility open, whether we’re going to fund another one, or close this. We vote on those things. We have oversight. I’ve never been denied access. I’ve been welcomed in federal facilities before. And she said, “Well, you’re trespassing.” And I said, “So what makes you say that?” “I checked with my supervisor and they’re telling me you’re trespassing.” I said, “Well, can you get the supervisor down here? I would like to have that discussion.” And so we were told the supervisor was coming, and there was another officer that came down, had three stripes. It was apparently a Sergeant. But she went straight outside. She didn’t stop to talk to us.
Louie Gohmert: (04:21)
So I asked, “Where’s the supervisor.” And one of the other detention facility employees said, “Well, that’s her right out there.” So I went outside to speak to her and I was followed by other members. And when we got outside, she ran around and went back in the facility and they locked the door. They locked the door. And all this time there were people going in coming out. So I know from my days as a judge and my trials in federal court and state court, we’re very careful about the evidence we let before a jury. But there is an inference that can be taken when someone has control of evidence, in this case, the conditions and the treatment in this Federal Bureau of Prison facility, they’ve got total control of it and they hide it. They refused to allow anybody that wants to see it to come in.
Louie Gohmert: (05:27)
Then a judge can instruct a jury, you may take the inference then from that fact. They have total control. They won’t let anybody see the evidence. Then you can infer that they are violating people’s rights. They are doing wrong to inmates. They are abusing them. Otherwise, there would be no reason. I mean, with all the prison and jails I’ve toured without any incident, any problem, as a Congressman and as a former judge, there’s no reason not to let us in unless they have something to hide. And clearly they do. We’re not trying to interfere in any case, but we do want to know the conditions and whether or not there’s abuse. And as lawyers say all the time in court, “I take it by your silence the answer is yes.” There is abuse. It is an abomination that they will not allow any oversight of whatever abuses they’re involved in. And at this time, Marjorie Tyler Greene was there and ground zero, please Marjorie.
Marjorie Taylor Greene: (06:45)
Thank you. Thank you. We went to this prison today, as members of Congress, to give oversight on a federal prison, because we suspect there is a two tier justice system in the United States for Trump supporters that are charged for January six and catch and release. It’s basically catch and release for Antifa and BLM rioters that have rioted, and destroyed cities, and hurt businesses, and looted, and hurt police officers, and federal monuments, and federal buildings, and police precincts. We suspected that, but it was confirmed today. And it’s an outrage. I’m not just concerned about the January 6th defendants. I’m concerned for all of the people in that prison, because we showed up, walked in, and we were told that we were trespassing. Members of Congress trespassing.
Marjorie Taylor Greene: (07:42)
Just like Congressman Gohmert said, we vote to fund these facilities. We also visit detention centers. I just went to one in California a few weeks ago and went in a detention center where illegals are held by ICE and US marshals. And they are treated beautifully. I’m not kidding. I am absolutely amazed at how generous our country is and how well we treat people that break the law entering our country, and also break law and commit crimes here in America. So they are treated so well in these detention facilities where we hold illegals. But I don’t know what is happening in this prison here in Washington, DC.
Marjorie Taylor Greene: (08:23)
Let me tell you, everyone should ask questions about that prison. They had an arrogance to them to tell us, members of Congress, that we are trespassing. And then to lock us out when we went outside to talk to the person that we were told is a supervisor. This is an outrage. Everyone should be concerned. People from all over the country should call and demand answers about what is happening in that prison. Do you want to know the kind of questions we were going to ask? Let me tell you. These are so difficult, these questions.
Marjorie Taylor Greene: (08:57)
Here you go. Visitation hours. What are visitation hours? Access to religious texts, reasonable religious service accommodations. Do they have access to exercise? What portion of the time are they on lock down in solitary confinement? We’ve heard it’s 22 to 24 hours a day. Nutrition content. What do they eat? How often do they get to eat? Access to communication with families and attorneys? Guess what? We watch an attorney walk up to the door and turned away. He couldn’t go in and see his client. The illegals that I saw down at the border in the detention facility there, they have all the access anytime they need to their attorneys and information they need for the cases that they’re waiting on.
Marjorie Taylor Greene: (09:45)
What is happening in our country? This shouldn’t be this way. We aren’t there defending, getting involved in any kind of one person’s charges. We’re there just to ask questions. But yet we were turned away and told that we’re trespassing. No, this is completely wrong. So when Democrats post links, Minnesota Freedom Fund bail bond links and raise money to bail out criminals that rioted in the streets and get them out of jail. But yet when we go, just to see conditions in a prison, we’re turned away and told that we’re trespassers. There is so much wrong in America. There’s a major difference if you all have not noticed in the Biden administration and the previous Trump administration. Please, please pay attention to this and do not let this go. I’d like to turn this over to Congressman Gaetz.
Matt Gaetz: (10:45)
Thank you. Every day in America, people are locked in prison. It’s not every day that people are locked out of a prison, which is what happened to multiple members of Congress today. We have two principle responsibilities: to appropriate funds and to conduct oversight. How does the Biden administration expect us to participate in the representative republic when they deprive us of access to information that would inform our oversight work and our appropriations decisions?
Matt Gaetz: (11:20)
The questions we’ve asked have gone unanswered for months and they fall into two principle categories. First, are there defendants, as a consequence of their conduct on January 6th, being deprived of access to potentially exculpatory evidence. We have seen that the FBI has a history of animating criminal conduct. That is precisely what happened in Michigan, and it may be what happened on January 6th as well. To answer that question, we need access to the 14 thousand hours of videos that Congressman Gosar has continuously called for.
Matt Gaetz: (11:57)
To answer that question, to get that evidence, we sought a meeting with the Attorney General. We went to the Department of Justice and we weren’t even allowed in the lobby to have a meeting with an Attorney General, who still to this day, has not shown up for an oversight hearing before the oversight committee or the House Judiciary Committee. What is Merrick Garland hiding?
Matt Gaetz: (12:19)
The second category of concerns deals with the specific treatment of detainees. To get answers, we did what members of Congress normally do. We showed up at the facility and sought a tour. This happens for Republicans under Democrat administrations. It happened for Democrats under Republican administrations. And now there is an unprecedented effort to deny members of Congress information that relates to criminal cases and that relates to the treatment of people that are held.
Matt Gaetz: (12:49)
We are not members of Congress who will go away. And so if you are out in the country and you believe that you are mistreated, targeted, abused, singled out as a consequence of your politics and your lawful activity, know this, we will continue to fight for you. And I now hand the microphone over to my colleague, Congressman Good.
Bob Good: (13:11)
Thank you, Congressman Gaetz. And thank you Congressman Gohmert and Congressman Greene for leading on this issue. We’ve been more than patient, beyond patient. It’s been nearly seven months since the incident on January six. That was a day when you had some hundred thousand people come to exercise their constitutionally protected right to protest, to readdress their government with their grievances. Sadly, unfortunately, inexcusably, some of that broke into violence and we all have condemned that violence and said, “We want the law to be upheld. We want justice to be served, and only justice to be served, and for people to be held accountable for what they did wrong.”
Bob Good: (13:49)
But I have had numerous members of my constituents back in Virginia asking me, “What is going on with the people being held?” Reported over 500 people being held for charges related to January six. Why don’t we know what the status is? Why don’t we know the condition of how they’re being held. And so we’re asking for answers.
Bob Good: (14:05)
As others have noted, for us to be denied access to the Department of Justice, to a correction facility right here in DC. As a county supervisor, I was allowed to visit correction facilities in my community. As a candidate for Congress, I was allowed to visit detention facilities as just a candidate for Congress. And I’ve certainly been allowed that privilege as a member of Congress. We are the people’s representatives. And when our people send us here to Washington to represent them, to stand in the gap for them, to defend them, to stand up for their rights. Part of that is oversight, as my colleagues have said, and challenging our executive branch when we think there’s questions that need to be answered. How are they being treated?
Bob Good: (14:43)
Even senators Warren and Durbin expressed concern back in April as to whether or not these individuals were being held in solitary confinement. This justice department spoke out about the charges, and was reprimanded for it and threatened with a gag order back in March because they’re willing to speak to their friends in the media, but they won’t speak to members of Congress who are asking questions about what’s happening. And so we’re not going to be quiet about it. We’re going to continue to push about it. We’re going to continue to demand answers, again, for justice, for due process, for the constitutional rights of everyone to be followed, and for these people who are being held, to be treated like all Americans deserve to be treated when they’re charged with something. So thank you to my colleagues. And I turn it back to Congressman Gohmert.
Matt Gaetz: (15:25)
We’d like to take a couple of questions.
Louie Gohmert: (15:27)
Let me make this comment, answer a question before it’s asked. And that is, “Well, what would you do about it?” Well, the thought that occurred to me today, and as we were talking about, some of you may be aware. In cities where there are federal courts but there’s no federal detention facilities, they make an agreement with a local jail or prison to hold federal prisoners. So I think the solution for any facility that refuses to allow oversight, refuses to show that people are being treated properly, they’re not abusing the constitution. Then I would say that we close those facilities, take some of that money, and hire local facilities to step up and detain those prisoners.
Louie Gohmert: (16:21)
And the thing is, you’ve got to understand, the constitution and the cases on it are very clear. You cannot punish someone when they’re in pretrial. They have to be found guilty before you can punish them. And it sure sounds like they’re punishing people in jail now.
Marjorie Taylor Greene: (16:42)
Matt Gaetz: (16:45)
We have time for a question or two, and we know they’ve called votes. Yes, ma’am?
[inaudible 00:16:51]. We understand from some media that [inaudible 00:16:54]. can you comment on this? And are there problems with this type of facility, based on the charges [crosstalk 00:17:07].
Marjorie Taylor Greene: (17:06)
We don’t know.
Bob Good: (17:06)
The problem is we don’t know.
Marjorie Taylor Greene: (17:06)
Matt Gaetz: (17:11)
We also have received reports that there are detainees in this facility charged with multiple crimes from multiple time periods, but we don’t know. And that’s why we went to ask questions and to review the circumstances. Oftentimes, there’s no substitute for a personal observation of those conditions, and we were denied that opportunity. And I think that question is one many would have, and we hope that with an opportunity to review the facility in the future, we’d be able to give you a more complete answer. It’s embarrassing to us. We cannot give a more thorough answer. One more question.
Louie Gohmert: (17:44)
[crosstalk 00:17:44]. It is important to know if there prisoners that are in punishment phase and also just inmates who are awaiting trial, because you can treat them very different.
[inaudible 00:18:03] failed attempts to communicate with the DOJ, the Attorney General, and another failed attempt just this morning at [inaudible 00:18:08] the correctional facility. Is this going [inaudible 00:18:10]. What can we expect next?
Marjorie Taylor Greene: (18:14)
Oh no. No, no, no.
Matt Gaetz: (18:16)
The Attorney General and the head of the Federal Bureau of Prisons cannot hide forever. Ultimately, if they won’t answer the door, when we go to them, they’re going to have to come to us. That’s how Congress works, that’s how the appropriations and budgeting process works. And so they will not be able to evade these questions indefinitely, and the longer they delay in answering them, the more suspicious it makes their conduct look. Thank you all so much, we’ve got to go cast some votes.
Louie Gohmert: (18:41)
Marjorie Taylor Greene: (18:42)
Thank you. Sorry.