Gaetz vows action in House hearing for alleged abuse against Jan. 6 defendants

US Republican Representative Matt Gaetz, from Florida, poses with supporters as he attends a 2024 campaign rally for former US President Donald Trump in Waco, Texas, March 25, 2023. - Trump held the rally at the site of the deadly 1993 standoff between an anti-government cult and federal agents. (Photo by SUZANNE CORDEIRO / AFP) (Photo by SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN’s Noah Herring
3:18 PM – Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Rep. Matt Gaetz held a first of its kind House hearing with January 6th defendants and family members, talking over accusations of governmental abuse of power. 


Representatives Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), and Troy Nehls (R-Texas) were also present alongside Gaetz. They were joined by two legal experts, two January 6th defendants, two family members of defendants, as well as one journalist and a witness of the events that conspired that day. 

During the hearing, GOP House members heard testimonies of the defendants who claimed widespread abuse from law enforcement during the events on Jan. 6th, as well as the treatment of those detained for their involvement. 

Geri Perna was among one of the first testimonies heard. Perna’s nephew, Matthew Perna, killed himself following his conviction over his non-violent conduct on Jan. 6th

Perna claimed her nephew was arrested for entering and loitering inside the Capitol building for 14 minutes, exclaiming that the fallout from the incident ruined both his professional and personal life. She asserted that the attorneys defending her nephew in court had also betrayed him.

“What followed was one betrayal after another from the moment Matt found out that the FBI was looking for him,” Perna said. “He turned himself in. The agents said it would make it easier for him. That was a lie. He was told his clean record would count in his favor. It did not. He was told that having no affiliation with any organized group would help. That was another lie. Then he was told that he would most likely face a fine and nothing else. Not true either. His attorney said his sentence would be less if he made a deal and pled guilty to all charges. That was perhaps the greatest lie of all.”

Perna explained to the hearing members that Matthew was informed prosecutors could add a terrorism sentence enhancer, putting him behind bars for several years, as opposed to the few couple of months he faced. Perna’s nephew was found hung in a garage soon after. Geri blamed “mental torture” for the cause of her nephew’s suicide. 

Later in the hearing, Gaetz and Greene discussed problems with the allegedly biased Washington, D.C. juries making a fair trial impossible. Gaetz also accused public defenders appointed to represent many of the defendants as biased against their clients.

“One of the things I’ve been troubled by is the conduct of some of the public defenders who were supposed to be advocating for their clients,” Gaetz said. “What should Congress know or be thinking about when we see public defenders in these cases going on social media and seemingly sharing their own bias against their own clients?”

Gaetz ended the hearing by promising to take action, vouching that he would use his political power as a member of Congress to investigate the alleged abuse against the defendants.

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