Ben Shapiro said Friday that pro-Trump rioters should rot in prison for attacking the U.S. Capitol, contrasting himself with other prominent conservatives who recently complained about their incarceration.
Mr. Shapiro, an author, podcast host and co-founder of The Daily Wire conservative news website, made the remark during a panel discussion on the latest episode of the HBO show “Real Time with Bill Maher”.
Fellow panelist Malcolm Nance said during the show that former President Trump mobilized 40,000 “to lay siege to the Capitol,” but only a fraction of that figure breached the building, Mr. Shapiro noted.
“Forty-thousand people did not assault the Capitol,” said Mr. Shapiro. “There were maybe 1,000 people. That is not making light of the evil of those people, who all will end up rotting in prison, as they should.”
More than 500 people and counting have been charged by federal prosecutors with a number of various crimes related to the rioting that occurred in and near the U.S. Capitol building as Congress met Jan. 6.
Yet while the attack on the Capitol was condemned nearly across the board after it occurred, several prominent conservatives have recently sympathized with some defendants or downplayed their actions.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson, arguably the most popular conservative on cable television, said last month of accused rioters held in solitary confinement: “at some point they become political prisoners.”
Several Republican members of Congress subsequently held a press conference outside the U.S. Department of Justice headquarters in Washington to complain about how the prisoners are being treated in jail.
“These are not unruly or dangerous, violent criminals, these are political prisoners who are now being persecuted during the pain of unjust suffering,” Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona said outside the building.
More recently, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia accused President Biden’s administration on Twitter this week of treating some of the jailed Capitol riot defendants “like prisoners of war.”
Tens of thousands of supporters of Mr. Trump rallied in Washington on Jan. 6 to protest the outcome of the 2020 election he lost to Mr. Biden over two months after the White House race had ended.
Mr. Trump addressed supporters near the White House that afternoon before telling them to march to the Capitol, where Congress was meeting to certify the results of the election and formalize his defeat.
Six months later, the Justice Department said more than 535 defendants have been arrested on related charges, including at least 165 charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding officers or employees.
Around 140 officers were hurt in the riot. One died the next day, and at least four died by suicide after. One rioter was fatally shot by police, and three others at the Capitol died of natural causes.
Mr. Nance, an MSNBC contributor, said on the HBO show that rioters broke into the Capitol building and assaulted police “in order to stop American democracy.
“Now I don’t know about you. But I’ve been around a little bit, and I’ve seen some dictators and warlords and authoritarians. That is authoritarianism,” said Mr. Nance.