Trump Says He Would ‘Free The Jan. 6 Hostages’ If Elected Again

Donald Trump said again Monday that he would release Jan. 6 defendants serving prison time for their participation in the 2021 attack on the Capitol, referring to them again as “hostages.”

“My first acts as your next President will be to Close the Border, DRILL, BABY, DRILL, and Free the January 6 Hostages being wrongfully imprisoned!” the GOP presidential front-runner wrote on Truth Social.

The attack — which Trump was impeached and then federally charged for encouraging — aimed to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 election win. And Trump has telegraphed ever since that he stands with the people who perpetrated it.

In June 2022, he said he would look “very, very seriously” at pardoning people arrested for storming the Capitol, saying they’d been “treated very unfairly.” That November, he wrote on Truth Social, “Let them all go now!”

In May last year, he called Jan. 6 a “beautiful day” and said he would pardon a “large portion” of Jan. 6 defendants (though maybe not “a couple of them” that “got out of control,” he added). Trump said the pardons would happen “very early on,” should he be elected again.

Earlier this month, on the third anniversary of the attack, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia tallied 1,276 Jan. 6defendants who’d been charged with entering or remaining in a restricted federal building or grounds; 486 who’d been charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding officers or employees; and more than 350 defendants charged with corruptly obstructing, influencing, or impeding an official proceeding, or attempting to do so.

At least 957 defendants had pleaded guilty or been convicted of charges against them as of this month. Of those, 95 pleaded guilty to federal charges of assaulting law enforcement officers, and 81 were found guilty of assaulting, resisting or impeding officers and/or obstructing officers during a civil disorder, according to prosecutors.

As of January, there were still more than 80 people wanted for violent acts at the Capitol that day, the Associated Press reported. Arrests of allegedly violent defendants are ongoing.

The longest sentences have been reserved for defendants determined to have taken part in a seditious conspiracy, including the respective leaders of the right-wing militia groups the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, two right-wing militia groups, Enrique Tarrio and Stewart Rhodes. Tarrio was sentenced to 22 years behind bars and Rhodes to 18 years. Thomas Webster, a retired New York City cop who used a flagpole to assault police officers, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Peter Schwartz, who was found guilty on 10 charges related to his assaulting police with a folding chair and pepper spray, was sentenced to 14 years behind bars in May last year.

Just last week, yet another Jan. 6 defendant pleaded guilty to assaulting law enforcement. Curtis Logan Tate used a metal baton he brought to the riot to hit cops before throwing a speaker through a window of the Capitol.

Trump has also said that, were he to be elected again, he would act as a “dictator” upon entering office.

Federal judges have taken note of Trump’s continued endorsement of the Jan. 6 defendants’ actions, as well as his lies about election fraud, which prompted the attack.

During a hearing for a Jan. 6 rioter who’d pleaded guilty, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said last month that he was sure “there won’t be an acceptance of a defeat” if Trump loses the 2024 election. Walton added that if Americans reject the results of elections that they don’t like, “we cannot exist as a peaceful society.”