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Elise Stefanik echoes Trump when asked about January 6 prisoners three years on

By Casey Gannon, CNN

(CNN) — GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik on Sunday echoed Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump as she referred to those sentenced to prison for their roles in the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol as “hostages.”

“I have concerns about the treatment of January 6 hostages. I have concerns, we have a role in Congress of oversight over our treatment of prisoners, and I believe we’re seeing the weaponization of the federal government against not just President Trump, but we’re seeing it against conservatives,” the New York Republican said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The House Republican conference chairwoman’s comments come one day after the three-year anniversary of the January 6, 2021, riot, when hundreds of individuals stormed the US Capitol to keep Trump in the White House. Over 1,200 Americans have been charged criminally for their alleged actions during the riot, and over half of the more than 890 found guilty of federal crimes have been sentenced to prison time, according to the Justice Department.

A few rioters have claimed in court that they are the victims of politically motivated prosecution because they support Trump. But federal judges, including those appointed by Trump, have rejected these arguments.

Republican former Rep. Liz Cheney blasted Stefanik for calling those imprisoned for their actions during January 6 “hostages,” referring to the term as “disgraceful.”

“That word she used is exactly the word that Donald Trump uses. And that’s why she’s using it. And it’s outrageous, and it’s disgusting,” Cheney said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “These are people who were involved in violence against police officers in the assault on the Capitol, and … it’s disgraceful for Donald Trump to be saying what he’s saying.”

Following the Capitol attack, Stefanik made a speech on the House floor condemning political violence but still challenged the certification of Pennsylvania’s votes from the 2020 election.

“I stand by my comments that I made on the House floor. I stood up for election integrity, and I challenged and objected to the certification of the state of Pennsylvania because of the unconstitutional overreach,” Stefanik said Sunday. “So, I absolutely stand by my floor speech, I am proud to support President Trump.”

There is no evidence of voter fraud or unconstitutional overreach in Pennsylvania, or any state, in the 2020 election.

Asked whether she would certify the 2024 election, no matter who wins, Stefanik would not commit. “We will see if this is a legal and valid election. What we’re seeing so far is that Democrats are so desperate they’re trying to remove President Trump from the ballot,” she said, referring to efforts in some states to use the 14th Amendment’s “insurrectionist ban” to bar the former president from appearing on ballots.

Stefanik also would not give a direct answer when asked whether she would consider being Trump’s running mate if he were to ask her, but said she’d be honored to work with a potential future Trump administration.

“Of course, I’d be honored to serve in any capacity in a Trump administration. I’m proud to be the first member of Congress to endorse his reelection, I’m proud to be a strong supporter of President Trump, and he’s going to win this November,” Stefanik said.

CNN’s Daniel Dale, Hannah Rabinowitz and Holmes Lybrand contributed to this report.

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