J.D. Vance, author of the popular book “Hillbilly Elegy,” and now a candidate for Republican Senate seat in Ohio made substantial false claims about the Capitol rioters last week, related to the legal proceedings surrounding many of those who have been charged in the attack.
Last week, on the anniversary of the riot, Vance tweeted a link to a page encouraging donations to some of the accused rioters.
Vance wrote in the tweet:
“There are dozens of people who protested on J6 who haven’t even been charged with a crime yet are being mistreated in DC prisons. A friend suggested the below link if you’re able to support them.”
Vance claimed in another tweets shortly thereafter that many of those in prison for the attacks are veterans who have been “accused of nothing.”
CNN’s fact check of Vance’s tweets showed that his statements were untrue:
Facts First: Vance’s claims are false. Every alleged Capitol rioter who is being held in jail to await trial has been charged with a crime. Moreover, every one of the dozens of defendants listed on the very donations page Vance was promoting has been charged with a crime.
Even though Vance corrected his tweets, adding “*convicted (not charged), he didn’t delete either of the earlier false tweets. He also did not say that he had been wrong earlier.
CNN also chimed in on the “political prisoners” claim made by Vance:
We won’t attempt to fact-check Vance’s subjective claim that the jailed defendants are being “mistreated”; conditions at DC jail facilities are known to be poor in general. But there is no factual basis for his claim in another tweet in the thread that “these people are political prisoners.” The vast majority of the 700-plus people who have been charged over the Capitol riot to date were released to await trial shortly after they were arrested. The dozens who have been kept in jail before trial are only being held because a federal judge — not the Biden administration — ruled that they are either too dangerous to release or pose a flight risk. Most of these defendants have been charged with attacking police or conspiring with far-right extremist groups. And when defendants have argued during their court cases that they are victims of politically motivated prosecution because they support former President Donald Trump, federal judges, including those appointed by Trump, have rejected these arguments.
At the end of 2021, about 40 defendants in the Capitol riot cases were being held at a DC jail, and not in a federal prison, as Vance suggested.
The “Patriot Freedom Project” website, promoted by Vance’s tweet, was made by a relative of a defendant, Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, who has known white supremacist and Nazi views. Hale-Cusanelli was ordered by a Trump-appointed judge to remain in jail as he awaits trial over concerns from the judge that Hale-Cusanelli posed a threat of violence to the public.