(American Greatness) — The latest “conspiracy theory” consuming the political Right, our media betters warn, is the idea that the Biden regime is creating a class of political prisoners stemming from the January 6 protest on Capitol Hill. Scoffing at accusations that January 6 protesters are treated differently from other protesters, columnists and talking heads insist it’s nothing more than right-wing media spin.
A rally scheduled this weekend for January 6 defendants has official Washington apoplectic. Dozens of Americans remain locked up in a D.C. jail and at facilities across the country as they await trials that won’t begin until at least mid-2022.
“The idea that people are languishing unfairly in grim detention facilities, though, fits neatly with a broad narrative that the Biden administration is rounding up and jailing political opponents,” Philip Bump, national correspondent for the Washington Post, wrote on Thursday. “This weekend’s rally is called ‘Justice for J6,’ implying that those still held are being detained unjustly for punitive reasons.”
All of that, of course, is true. More than 600 Americans have been rounded up by Joe Biden’s Justice Department with new arrests coming every week. Federal prosecutors have requested pre-trial detention for at least 100 defendants; 60 Capitol protesters are now in jail and denied bail. For months, January 6 detainees have suffered under solitary confinement conditions, were allowed out of their cells only one hour per day, and have been denied access to lawyers, exercise, personal hygiene, and religious services.
But Bump, like the rest of the national news media, not only downplays the detention of dozens of January 6 protesters including those charged with no violent crime, he justifies the unequal treatment under the caveat that the accused participated in an alleged “insurrection” to overthrow the government.
At the same time, the American people are supposed to deny what they see with their own eyes and believe that the 630 or so Americans arrested and charged for mostly misdemeanor offenses related to January 6 are being treated the same way as Antifa or Black Lives Matter activists.
Ironically, while Bump was penning his column on Thursday, the D.C. District court held hearings for four Trump supporters who’ve been in jail for several months under pre-trial detention sought by Joe Biden’s Justice Department and allowed by two Obama-appointed judges. All four detainees are housed in a D.C. jail specifically used to incarcerate Americans arrested for protesting the election of Joe Biden.
Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, and Jessica Watkins (she is transgender) are members of the Oath Keepers, the Justice Department’s premier “conspiracy” case. Watkins was arrested in January; Meggs was arrested in February along with his wife, Connie; Harrelson was arrested in March.
None has a criminal record. None is charged with bringing a weapon, assaulting anyone including a police officer, or destroying government property. Their biggest crime, according to the government, was “conspiring” to enter the Capitol building in a “stack formation” clad in military gear — most Oath Keepers are veterans — where they remained for about 20 minutes.
In a motion asking the court to deny Jessica Watkins’ release, the prosecutor described Watkins’ beliefs about the 2020 presidential election as evidence of her potential danger to the community. “Watkins considered the prospect of a Biden presidency an existential threat,” Biden’s Justice Department wrote in February. “[S]he not only maintains, but has exhibited an extremist anti-government ideology that this Court has no reason to believe will abate if released.”
Judge Amit Mehta, appointed by Barack Obama in 2014, repeatedly has signed orders to keep Watkins, Harrelson, and Meggs in jail, arguing they pose a danger because they plotted in advance to travel to Washington, D.C. and enter the building together while acknowledging they committed no violent crime.
In a hearing Thursday, Ken Harrelson’s lawyer told Mehta his client was in “terrible” shape, hadn’t had a shower or shave, and is suffering from an untreated medical condition. Jail officials are preventing in-person meetings between defendants and their attorneys. “I’ve met with him for five minutes,” his new lawyer told Mehta.
But on Friday, Mehta again denied Harrelson’s release. “He merely makes assertions about the lack of evidence that he engaged in violent acts or directly destroyed property,” Mehta wrote in his September 17 order. “But, of course, this court was aware of the absence of such proof, and yet detained Defendant anyways because the totality of the evidence established his dangerousness. The evidence included, among other things, his leadership position with the Oath Keepers both before and on January 6; his coordination with others in bringing weapons just outside the District of Columbia to support a ‘quick reaction force’; [and] his forceful entry into the Capitol building as part of a larger group moving in a ‘stack’ formation.”
So an Obama-appointed judge admits a defendant did not commit a violent crime but that his membership to a group publicly opposed to Joe Biden, along with other hearsay, makes him too serious a threat to let him go home to his family?
Further, Mehta now is preparing to move the January 2022 trial date for Harrelson, Meggs, and Watkins to April 2022 because the government still cannot get its evidence together. That means three nonviolent Americans who dared to protest the incoming Biden regime will be behind bars for more than a year before a moment of their trials can begin.
Also on Thursday, Judge Rudolph Contreras again refused to release Kyle Fitzsimons, a January 6 protester arrested on February 4. Fitzsimons faces several charges including assaulting Sargent Aquilino Gonell, the celebrity U.S. Capitol Police officer who beat Fitzsimons on the head with his baton that afternoon. (Gonell also handled the dying body of Roseanne Boyland an hour after the confrontation with Fitzsimons.)
In a motion arguing against Fitzsimons’ release, Biden’s Justice Department listed several voicemail messages he left at the office of his congressman after the election. “On December 18, 2020, the defendant stated that the electoral college vote is corrupt and total garbage,” the lead prosecutor wrote. “He urged the Congressperson to dispute the election results in January.”
Contreras is the same judge who signed the plea agreement with Lt. General Michael Flynn in December 2017 then immediately recused himself before text messages showing his friendship with disgraced FBI lawyer Peter Strzok were made public.
Contreras, appointed by Obama in 2012, won’t issue his ruling until next month. Fitzsimons will continue to languish in jail, away from his two-year-old daughter, for at least another 30 days.
New York Times reporter Alan Feuer also attempted to debunk the belief that a “vast federal investigation of the riot has been essentially unfair, its targets the victims of political persecution.” Feuer dismisses claims about inhumane jail conditions by reminding his readers that jail is a “terrible place to be.”
But Feuer tips his hand when he admits the Justice Department is using a “novel charge” to prosecute January 6 protesters. More than 200 people face obstruction of an official proceeding charge, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in jail. (I explained the background of the law in March.)
“The Justice Department’s use of the obstruction law is arguably the most political move prosecutors have made to date,” Feuer wrote. “[A]s some defense lawyers have noted, the government did not use the same charge in 2018 when left-wing activists swarmed the Capitol to protest the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.”
Not only did thousands of activists occupy the Hart Senate office building for days and directly confront senators, they were cheered by news outlets such as the Post and the Times. The anti-Kavanaugh mob attempted to stop the confirmation process and halt his swearing-in ceremony at the Supreme Court in October 2018.
Not a single Kavanaugh protester was charged with a felony, let alone spent months in prison.
Feuer and Bump and others can try their best to convince people the Capitol breach probe is commencing just like any other criminal investigation into unlawful political activity. But Americans — at least those without bloodlust for anyone involved in the four-hour disturbance on January 6 — plainly see the difference.
BLM rioters, Antifa thugs, and anti-Kavanaugh protesters are off the hook while Trump-supporting, anti-Biden protesters wallow in jail for months, charged with obstruction and other silly crimes.
Political prisoners? Yes.
Julie Kelly is a political commentator and senior contributor to American Greatness. She is the author of "Disloyal Opposition: How the NeverTrump Right Tried ― And Failed ― To Take Down the President." Her past work can be found at The Federalist and National Review. She also has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and Genetic Literacy Project. She is the co-host of "Happy Hour podcast with Julie and Liz." She is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University and lives in suburban Chicago with her husband and two daughters.