Watch: US Reps. Gaetz, MTG Flee 1/6 Commission Presser After It’s Swamped by Protesters
Since the January 6, 2021, riot at the US Capitol, Republicans and Democrats have sparred over who is ultimately responsible, but the GOP itself is split over whether the rioters’ actions aimed at keeping a Republican president in power were legal or justified.
Several Republican members of Congress were driven from the streets of Washington, DC, on Tuesday after a group of protesters disrupted their press conference on the "treatment of Jan. 6th prisoners” outside the US Department of Justice.
“You saw what happened here,” US Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) yelled on Tuesday afternoon, barely audible over the cacophony of whistles, chants, and cheers outside the DOJ building in downtown DC. “The Left shut us down. They hate free speech.”
Gaetz, along with three other Republican congressmembers who supported Trump’s claims, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ), gathered outside the offices of the DOJ to deliver a protest over the arrest of several participants in the insurrection who had stormed the US Capitol.
“To the guy that’s blowing the whistle: we are not deterred. And so, for anyone that’s here being an activist and yelling today, here’s a statement that I need everyone to understand: we will not back down, we will not stop asking questions, we are looking for the truth,” Greene said at the presser. “The taxpayers of this country pay all of these people’s salaries, and they owe the people of this country the answers to the questions.”
As the lawmakers and their entourage are steadily surrounded by the crowd of several dozen protesters, they decide they’ve lost control over the situation and begin to flee the podium for their vehicles.
After the lawmakers scrambled into their SUVs and drove away, the protesters sat on their laurels and listened to a go-go band jam amid signs that read “infrastructure not insurrection” and “traitors and rapists sit down.”
The press conference coincided with the opening day of hearings for the January 6 Commission, a Congressional inquiry into the assault on the US Capitol earlier this year by supporters of then-US President Donald Trump who sought to overturn the results of the November 2020 election. The close election was won by US President Joe Biden, but Trump claimed Biden’s victory was the result of fraud and he refused to recognize Biden as the winner, demanding that some ballots in contested states be thrown out and calling on his supporters to “stop the steal.”
Five people were killed in the riot, including a US Capitol Police officer and four protesters, one of whom was shot outside the Senate chamber by a USCP officer. The officers were among the first to testify before the commission on Tuesday, describing what it was like to face off against thousands of fellow Americans on the western steps of the national legislature who were attempting to force their way into the building.