Trump calls people charged and convicted for Jan. 6 riots 'hostages' – NBC News
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Former President Donald Trump called people serving prison sentences for participating in the Jan. 6 riot “hostages, not prisoners” during a campaign event held at an oil and gas service facility in Houston on Thursday.
“I call them the J6 hostages, not prisoners. I call them the hostages, what’s happened. And it’s a shame,” Trump said as he kicked off the campaign stop.
Trump, who faces federal criminal charges in Washington, D.C., for allegedly attempting to subvert the 2020 election results and remain in power, has long painted the imprisoned group as martyrs. But this is the first time he has gone so far as to call them hostages — amid heavy media and U.S. government attention on hundreds of hostages taken by Hamas in Israel during a terror attack last month.
Trump’s Houston event included another shift: All of his campaign events start with him standing onstage as the entirety of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless The USA” rings out over the sound system. This time, instead of starting his remarks at the conclusion of the song, another song began to play: “Justice for All,” by Donald J. Trump and the “J6 Prison Choir.”
The song features a group of men imprisoned for their involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot singing the national anthem, interlaced with Trump’s voice saying the pledge of allegiance.
“Well thank you very much, and you know what that was,” Trump said following the playing of the song. “They asked me whether or not I would partake and do the beautiful words and I said, yes, I would,” Trump continued. “And you saw the Spirit. The Spirit was incredible.”
The former president speaks often in support for accused and convicted Jan. 6 rioters, often using their convictions to claim that there is a one-sided justice system. In June, Trump spoke at a fundraiser for Jan. 6 defendants at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., promising to make a contribution to their legal fund. In April, the former president embraced a woman who served time in jail for her involvement in the Jan. 6 riot during a campaign stop in New Hampshire.
He has also said he would consider pardoning some of those convicted if he is elected again in 2024.
The “Justice for All” song was originally released in March and was played at Trump’s first 2024 campaign rally in Waco, Texas that month.
Trump’s Washington trial is scheduled to begin on March 4, the day before Super Tuesday.
Jake Traylor is a 2024 NBC News campaign embed.
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