BREAKING: Judge Tanya Chutkan Calls 'Hostages' Label for Jailed Jan. 6 Defendants Wrong, Asserts 'They're Being Kept There Because They Are Dangerous People' -
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BREAKING: Judge Tanya Chutkan Calls ‘Hostages’ Label for Jailed Jan. 6 Defendants Wrong, Asserts ‘They’re Being Kept There Because They Are Dangerous People’

On April 10th, the judge overseeing the case involving former President Donald Trump’s alleged interference in the election stated that labeling defendants detained in connection with the Capitol riot as “hostages” is wrong.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, appointed by former President Barack Obama, stated that individuals still detained in Washington for their involvement in the January 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol should not be referred to as hostages or heroes.

“They’re being kept there because they are dangerous people,” Judge Chutkan said.

President Trump has been showing growing support for defendants involved in the events of January 6, including playing recordings of them singing the national anthem while in jail. In 2023, he addressed a fundraiser aimed at aiding these defendants and expressed his intention to contribute personally.

“There have been few people that have been treated in the history of our country like the people that you love, like the people that have gone through so much,” Trump said at the time. Later in that year, he labeled detained defendants as “hostages, not prisoners.”

In March, he pledged that if he were to win the 2024 election, one of his initial actions in office would be to “free the January 6 hostages being wrongfully imprisoned!”

And most recently, he referred to a 71-year-old grandmother who received a prison sentence as “one of Joe Biden’s J6 hostages.”

Critics, including White House officials, have denounced the characterization. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre labeled the description as “grotesque and offensive” to people being held hostage.

However, some individuals have expressed agreement with President Trump’s stance on the treatment of defendants, particularly those who have been detained awaiting trial for an extended period.

“I have concerns about the treatment of January 6th hostages,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) said earlier this year on NBC.

“We have a role in Congress of oversight over our treatments of prisoners. And I believe that we’re seeing the weaponization of the federal government against not just President Trump, but we’re seeing it against conservatives,” she added.

When questioned about his response to critics who argue that Jan. 6 defendants shouldn’t receive defense, former U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy stated at a forum this week that individuals were “defending the due process.”

“Why are they sitting in jail and not having the ability to go to court?” he later added.

Dozens of individuals are currently detained in a Washington jail, awaiting trial or sentencing, with some facing charges for assaulting law enforcement officers. A notable portion of these detainees has voiced their support for President Trump.

Mr. Vo, aged 31, was not detained following his conviction in September 2023 for four misdemeanors, which included disorderly conduct and participating in activities within the Capitol building.

Despite Judge Chutkan’s determination that he had not adhered to pre-trial release terms, Mr. Vo was not held. The judge mentioned that Mr. Vo was observed at the “Freedom Corner” near the Washington jail, where nightly vigils are held for those detained, despite being instructed not to be in Washington unless for court-related matters.

Judge Chutkan told Mr. Vo that he was fortunate she didn’t order him jailed after his conviction. She noted that he has consistently declined to show remorse or acknowledge accountability for his actions on January 6th.

She handed down a sentence of nine months in prison for Mr. Vo, to be followed by one year of supervised release, along with a $1,000 fine. Defense attorneys had advocated for no jail time, pointing out that Mr. Vo was not charged with committing any violent acts and exited the Capitol within half an hour of entering.

On the other hand, prosecutors pushed for an 11-month prison term, citing remarks suggesting a lack of remorse, such as his self-identification on social media as a “J6 wrongful convict” and a post-trial comment stating, “there was zero jury of peers and 100% a kangaroo court.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Vo expressed regret, stating that he was “sorry for everything” and acknowledged that he should not have entered the Capitol on January 6th.

Judge Chutkan didn’t mention President Trump’s name during the sentencing hearing.

The trial of the former president in Washington for the election interference case was set to start on March 4, but Judge Chutkan has decided to pause the proceedings while courts deliberate his claim of immunity from prosecution.

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to review the case later this month.

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