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Jeffries: Stefanik should be 'ashamed' for calling J6ers 'hostages'

The top Democrat in the U.S. House says New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik “should be ashamed of herself” for describing defendants in the Jan. 6 attack on Congress as “hostages.”


What You Need To Know

  • New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who represents North Country and chairs the House Republican Conference, used the word “hostages” in a “Meet the Press” interview Sunday, echoing remarks by former President Donald Trump a day earlier at a campaign event in Iowa.

  • In the three years since the Capitol riot, more than 1,200 people have been charged with federal crimes tied to the events that day, including trespassing and assaulting police officers.

  • Brooklyn Rep. Hakeem Jeffries says Stefanik “should be ashamed of herself.”


Brooklyn Rep. Hakeem Jeffries told reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday that “no decent, rational, credible individual … should claim that the violent insurrectionists who attacked and brutally beat police officers are hostages.”


Stefanik, who represents New York’s North Country and chairs the House Republican Caucus, used the word “hostages” in a “Meet the Press” interview Sunday, echoing remarks by former President Donald Trump a day earlier at a campaign event in Iowa.


New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who represents North Country and chairs the House Republican Conference, used the word “hostages” in a “Meet the Press” interview Sunday, echoing remarks by former President Donald Trump a day earlier at a campaign event in Iowa. (AP Photo)


“I believe that we're seeing the weaponization of the federal government against not just President Trump, but we're seeing it against conservatives,” Stefanik said.


In the three years since the Capitol riot, more than 1,200 people have been charged with federal crimes tied to the events that day, including trespassing and assaulting police officers. More than 700 have pleaded guilty. 


Jeffries also took aim at Republicans in New York’s swing districts, asking why they have not “denounced” Stefanik for her comments and why they “continue to rely on her fundraising support in order to try to fool the voters in New York and pretend like they believe in moderation.”


Jeffries is leading a coordinated campaign program in New York, aimed at flipping competitive congressional districts there after several losses in 2022. Major Democratic pickups across his home state could help Democrats win control of the chamber in November and make him House speaker next year.


At the same time, Stefanik is helping spearhead efforts to keep those seats in Republican hands. As of August, Politico reported that Stefanik’s team estimated she directly help raise roughly $150,000 for each of those swing district congressmen.


Asked to respond to Jeffries, a senior advisor for Stefanik issued a statement that said, “VIOLENT BLM rioters” have been treated differently by the Justice Department “than those who are charged with NON-VIOLENT crimes related to January 6th.” The spokesman went on to cite complaints that jailed Jan. 6 defendants have been exposed to mold and received inadequate medical care.


The spokesman added, “Jeffries … supports a corrupt weaponized government and supports releasing violent criminals from jail. Once again N.Y. Democrats are going to get crushed at the ballot box.”


In an interview Thursday, Rep. Nick LaLota, one of the New York congressmen Jefferies was referring to, said “hostages” is “not the language I would use.” 


“If you broke the law that day - if you trespassed, if you broke, if you entered, if you assaulted or battered - whether you did that on that specific date or through the riots of 2020, you ought to be held accountable,” he continued. 


He said he is “quite comfortable” receiving campaign finance assistance from Stefanik, adding, "she's our conference chair."


For more, read the full article by Kevin Frey on Spectrum News NY1 here.

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