Trump Pledges Immediate Release of Jan. 6 Detainees if Re-elected President

Donald Trump has declared his intention to prioritize the release of individuals incarcerated for their involvement in the January 6 Capitol attack, should he secure a victory in the upcoming November election. In a post on Truth Social, Trump outlined his initial actions if re-elected: “My first acts as your next President will be to Close the Border, DRILL, BABY, DRILL, and Free the January 6 Hostages being wrongfully imprisoned!” This statement marks the first instance he has suggested addressing this matter at the outset of his potential new term in the White House, despite previously expressing his willingness to pardon many of the rioters. Trump has controversially referred to those convicted and sentenced as “hostages.”

The Justice Department reports that, over 38 months since the riot, more than 1,358 individuals across nearly all 50 states have faced charges related to the U.S. Capitol breach. Among these, over 486 have been accused of assaulting or impeding law enforcement officials.

In May of last year, Trump voiced his inclination to pardon a significant number of the rioters during a town hall in New Hampshire, stating, “I can’t say for every single one, because a couple of them, probably they got out of control.” He indicated that such pardons would be issued “very early on” in his re-election term, though he did not explicitly mention it as a Day 1 priority.

Trump’s characterization of the imprisoned rioters as “hostages” has drawn criticism from the White House. At a campaign event in Iowa on the third anniversary of the attack, Trump claimed that the prisoners had been mistreated under the Biden administration, asserting, “They’ve suffered enough. I call them hostages. Some people call them prisoners.”

In response, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre condemned the comparison of those convicted of assaulting law enforcement and attempting to overthrow the government to individuals abducted by Hamas during the October 7 attacks in southern Israel as “grotesque and offensive.”

On the eve of the anniversary, President Biden criticized Trump for labeling the rioters as “patriots” rather than “criminals,” emphasizing, “Trump’s mob wasn’t a peaceful protest. It was a violent assault. They were insurrectionists, not patriots. They weren’t there to uphold the Constitution; they were there to destroy the Constitution.”