In the Spotlight
Lawyer: January 6 Clients Are Being Tortured
“For the first time in U.S. history, the political party in power is hunting down and jailing members of the opposition party for political dissidence, and . . . torturing them in jail.”
By Debra Heine
From American Greatness
August 28, 2022
A lawyer for several of the January 6 political prisoners says his clients are being “tortured” by a system of “anarcho-tyranny” that considers them to be a “subhuman, sub-constitutional class of people.” In an interview this week, Joseph D. McBride said he is building a case to sue the federal government for millions of dollars over the abuses his clients have suffered.
The devout Catholic told the Blaze‘s Daniel Horowitz on his “Conservative Review” podcast Monday that he has witnessed the “deepest part of evil” while representing the political prisoners.
“They are gaslighting the entire American public,” McBride said. “They are calling these people extremists and terrorists, but the extremism and the terrorism lies with them!”
“January 6 did not happen in a vacuum,” he continued. “In the year or so that preceded January 6, you had all the BLM and Antifa riots all over the United States of America. We saw the burning down of cities, the attacking of police officers. Members of antifa out there in black bloc covered head to toe in full riot gear going at it with police, the looting of stores—you name it, we saw it.”
McBride posited that the left-wing agitators got a pass in 2020 because of new and expanded definitions of “civil disobedience, and political protest” which allowed government entities to view even violent riots “as grounded in the First Amendment, not criminality.”
In the wake of this, he explained, the pro-Trump protesters showed up in Washington, D.C. on January 6 with the impression there was this “new and modern definition of political protest.” Of course, most of the January 6 rioters came nowhere near the levels of violence the nation saw during the George Floyd riots, McBride was careful to point out.
Because of who they were, however, (that is, mainly white, middle-class, patriotic, pro-Trump Americans) they were targeted, persecuted, and not given the constitutional protections the much more violent and destructive left-wing rioters were routinely given, he argued.
“For the first time in U.S. history, the political party in power is hunting down and jailing members of the opposition party for political dissidence, and not only that, they’re torturing them in jail,” McBride said. “This is the stuff of dictatorships.”
He said he has two clients who are both currently being tortured in jail: Ryan Taylor Nichols of Longview, Texas, and Christopher Quaglin of New Jersey.
The attorney explained that both of these men are routinely thrown in solitary confinement for long periods of time, which violates international norms, and when their advocates on the outside speak out against the abuse, they get treated even worse.
“Legally, a pre-trial detainee in America is not allowed to be punished, never mind tortured,” he told Horowitz.
In the United States of America, we only punish convicted persons, meaning you had your day in court, and you either were convicted guilty, or you took a plea and you admitted guilt. Then and only then you can be punished and jailed. And even in those sets of circumstances, the punishment for your crime is the deprivation of your freedom.
The standard for a convicted person is no cruel and unusual punishment. The standard for a pre-trial detainee—because that person has not been convicted of any crime, and is still presumed innocent—is that no punishment of any kind is acceptable. Meaning, if you punish somebody, and they’re a pretrial detainee, you have violated their constitutional rights.
Quaglin is an electrician who was out of work in 2020 due to government policies surrounding COVID. “He has neither been in serious trouble before nor arrested prior to this incident,” friends and family of Christopher Quaglin said in a GiveSendGo plea for help. “He has always been an ardent supporter of the police and some months prior to his arrest led a local demonstration in support of the men and women in blue serving his hometown.”
In dozens of letters to the federal court judge, friends and family have testified that Quaglin is not the violent Capitol insurrectionist federal authorities have portrayed him to be, but “an extraordinary neighbor who’d help you work on your home if needed.”
McBride told Horowitz that during the riot, he got into some “shoving matches” with police, picked up a shield at some point, and picked up a can of mace. Government prosecutors allege that he was part of the crowd that attacked Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges, who was seen on video trapped between protesters and a set of doors to the building.
Horowitz quipped that if BLM and Antifa were prosecuted for merely pushing and shoving, new prisons would have to be constructed “to hold hundreds of thousands of people.”
“If this were under normal circumstances, this would be done already. Taken care of a long time ago,” McBride agreed.
Quaglin, who is being held in one of the satellites of the DC Gulag, Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia, has Celiac disease, a chronic digestive and immune disorder that damages the small intestine.
“This is a serious underlying condition,” McBride told Horowitz. “He’s highly allergic to wheat and gluten. When he eats it, he has a severe adverse reaction. It’s very bad, he loses weight, he vomits, he has diarrhea, he has intestinal cramps, he breaks out in lesions on his back. It is so bad that he would choose to not eat and starve over the pain of eating these foods,” the lawyer explained. “This is not a lifestyle choice.”
McBride said Quaglin has lost 45 pounds because prison officials refuse to provide a diet that won’t make him sick.
McBride said Quaglin has been transferred to six different facilities since his arrest in April of 2021, and his mistreatment grows worse with each transfer. The prisoner has been at Northern Neck Regional Jail since December 20, 2021.
“He has been moved six times, and each time, his lawyers have to intervene and tell prison officials that he requires a special diet for his condition,” the attorney lamented, adding that every time he speaks out in defense of his client, retaliatory action is taken against him.
“Right now, he is locked away in a cell with no windows—no way to reach out to the world simply because his lawyer and his family are speaking out on his behalf. This is a life or death situation,” he said.
At one point, prison officials took him out of solitary confinement and put him in a block with COVID positive inmates, McBride told American Greatness, so naturally, Quaglin, who was already weak from food deprivation, got COVID.
The attorney noted that Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), and about 14 other members of Congress have all spoken out on his behalf.
Ryan Taylor Nichols is a decorated military veteran who served his country honorably in the Marine Corps, and who has no prior contact with the criminal justice system.” After his military service, he was diagnosed with PTSD, which has been left untreated throughout his incarceration. Nichols is currently being held in the D.C. Gulag.
Only a few years ago Nichols was hailed as a hero because of his charity “Rescue the Universe,“ which rescues people and animals stranded during natural disasters.
Nichols “went viral” in 2018 after he rescued puppies during Hurricane Michael. He was invited on to the “Ellen Degeneres Show,” where the host donated $25,000 to the Humane Society in his name. When DeGeneres found out that Nichols couldn’t afford to go on a honeymoon with his wife Bonnie, she gifted him with $10,000, which he used to buy a boat for more rescue operations.
“This guy is the best of what America has to offer,” McBride told Horowitz. “He’s a small business owner, he’s a father to two beautiful young boys, a husband, a son—just a good man who loves his country.”
McBride said Nichols went to the protest on January 6 and ended up having to “defend himself and defend some other people during some really difficult acts of police brutality.”
Prosecutors say Nichols assaulted law enforcement officers during the riot and incited other people to violence. Last December, Judge Thomas F. Hogan denied Nichols’ request to be released pending trial because he allegedly called for “an actual war” after the riot. “It’s clear to me that there is an identifiable threat,” Hogan said.
“He has been in custody since January 18, 2021,” McBride said. He spent most of the first nine months or so in solitary confinement “until we started screaming about it,” he added. McBride said they were using COVID-19 as “a pretext to lock people in solitary confinement.”
Horowitz pointed out that while the COVID pandemic was used as a pretext for solitary confinement, it was also used as a pretext to let other, violent career criminals out of jail.
McBride said the jail stopped doing it after several lawyers made a fuss, but prison officials continue sporadically to put Nichols in solitary confinement anyway “to torture him.”
“On April 20, they put him in solitary confinement for reasons that made no sense,” McBride told Horowitz. “They left him there for about three weeks. After three weeks, he needed to be put on suicide watch,” the lawyer continued, because “they had broken him down—he wanted to check out and give up.”
The reaction to this, according to McBride, was more abuse and ridicule, with prison guards appearing to take sadistic glee in Nichols’ pain.
“The remedy for suicide watch was to put him in a plastic tie back suit, put him on a table in a room with lights that didn’t go off for three days, to make fun of him, and to say, ‘look, if you’re really gonna kill yourself, just get it over with because we all want to go to lunch,’” he said. “They have psychologically tortured him for a very long time.”
What makes these violations of basic human rights particularly galling, is that liberals historically have championed the rights of prisoners, yet, by and large, have ignored the plight of the J6ers.
McBride noted that the state of New York last year adopted the Nelson Mandela rules—the international standard for solitary confinement in the law.
“Solitary confinement is defined as 22 hours or more a day of being held in isolation absent meaningful contact, and it defines prolonged solitary confinement as solitary confinement for more than 15 days,” he explained. “It outlaws solitary confinement for one day for anybody with a serious physical or psychological condition, and it outlaws the use of prolonged solitary confinement against anyone for any reason.”
McBride pointed out that Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), as well as the ACLU, Amnesty International, and most other groups on the Left have long been on the record condemning solitary confinement as a form of torture.
“It is absolute, unequivocal torture,” McBride insisted, before expressing deep disappointment in these “human rights” advocates.
“None of them have reached out to help, or spoken a word in defense of these American citizens who have been tortured during the duration of these past 19 months,” he said. “Most lawyers won’t even touch the issue because they don’t have the heart or the stomach for it. We’re speaking out now every opportunity we get to educate the public.”
Ryan Nichols’ wife, Bonnie Nichols; Ashli Babbitt’s mother, Micki Witthoeft; and other supporters have been holding a vigil outside the DC Gulag in recent days, singing and praying, and doing as much as they can to give the political prisoners comfort.
Last night I had the distinct honor of introducing Bonnie Nichols to Micki Witthoeft. Micki lost her daughter Ashli Babbitt on J6. Bonnie’s husband Ryan Nichols is locked up a few hundred yards away from where we were standing, on the other side of the towering prison walls.
McBride said another one of his clients, Richard Barnett, started the tradition of singing the National Anthem every night at 9:00 p.m..
Barnett, who was pictured with his feet up on the desk in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, was released from the D.C. Gulag last year.
McBride said that he sent the ACLU and Amnesty International an emergency request for intervention on August 3, 2021, citing seven specific instances in which January 6 political prisoners had ben tortured at the D.C. Gulag.
Among the abuses, he stated that Barnett had been beaten, people had been maced, put in solitary confinement, and Ryan Samsel was beaten until “his eye popped out of his head.”
The latter incident happened at the D.C. Gulag in late March of 2021. Samsel’s attorney, Elisabeth Pasqualani, told ABC News that two guards came to his cell in the early morning hours, ordered him to put on zip-tie handcuffs, and took him to a nearby cell.
Pasqualani said Samsel told her that one of the officers then proceeded to “punch him, hit him, kick him” as he lay on the ground.
According to Pasqualani, Samsel was taken to a hospital and suffered a broken nose and a fractured orbital floor in his eye socket, and that he still cannot see out of his right eye, which “might be permanent,” she said.
The D.C. Department of Corrections Director Quincy Booth claimed a department probe cleared its officer of any wrongdoing.
Samsel was relocated to a separate facility after Pasqualani requested his transfer following the savage assault.
McBride said he implored the ACLU and Amnesty International to investigate the allegations of abuse and help the suffering January 6 political prisoners, saying they were fellow Americans in danger of being tortured to death.
“They never even wrote me back,” McBride said. “I have circulated that all over the world at this point,” he added. “Nobody lifted a finger to help us. Those organizations are not worth their salt.”
Two weeks ago, the attorney filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus against Attorney General Merrick Garland and D.C. Gulag Warden Michelle Jones on behalf of Nichols. In the petition, the lawyer described the deplorable conditions at the D.C. Gulag.
The U.S. Marshals inspected the facility pursuant to Judge Royce C. Lamberth’s contempt order on October 18, 2021. Although prison officials barred the Marshals’ entry into the jail until the facility had been cleaned and scrubbed (by the prisoners themselves), they still managed to find “evidence of systemic failures,” according to the petition.
Specifically, the Marshals found that “water and food appeared to be withheld from the detainees for punitive reasons. Inspectors observed large amounts of standing human sewage (urine and feces) in the toilets of multiple occupied cells. The smell of urine and feces was overpowering in many locations. The water in many of the cells had been shut off for days, inhibiting detainees from drinking water, washing hands, or flushing toilets.”
In the petition, McBride also accused several guards of engaging in antagonistic and abusive behavior against the J6ers, including threats, racial slurs, sexual assault, as well as mental and physical abuse. Lieutenant Moore, according to the filing, gassed prisoners on Veteran’s Day, November 11, because one inmate refused to wear a mask, resulting in two detainees being carried out in stretchers.
McBride asked the court to declare that Nichols “is being held in violation of his Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution,” and to order his immediate release from “unlawful custody.”
McBride filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in April accusing U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and jail superintendent Ted Hull of treating Quaglin with “deliberate indifference” toward his medical condition and demanding that he be released from pretrial detention. The lawsuit states that Quaglin’s constitutional and human rights are being violated.
“Petitioner alleges that his serious underlying medical condition—celiac disease—has been treated with deliberate indifference, which has caused him to suffer irreparable harm,” the complaint says.
“Respondents have also moved Petitioner six times over the course of the past year and have failed six times to feed Petitioner correctly,” the filing adds, noting that by April of this year, Quaglin had lost almost 40 pounds. “This is not negligence, nor is it a mistake, it is purposeful and deliberate torture.”
Petitioner has been forced to go multiple days without food each time he arrives at a new detention center because of a failure to send him with celiac-safe food or prepare celiac-safe food for his arrival, which has directly resulted in petitioner going over five days without eating on multiple occasions.
Petitioner has kept and continues to keep a food, starvation, and mistreatment log since being taken into custody in April of 2021. Petitioner has been forced to spend approximately $7,500 on commissary since being detained. He does this out of survival because that is the only way he can guarantee himself celiac-safe food. Petitioner’s commissary is routinely confiscated to punish him, which causes him to starve because he is not being fed celiac-safe food.
McBride also cited the “disgusting unsanitary living conditions” in the jail, including the presence of “black mold, rats, roaches” and being “forced to drink brown and/or black looking water.”
The lawsuit also alleges that Quaglin has been “purposefully exposed to danger by being housed in notoriously hostile parts of the jails.”
“Unlike other January 6th detainees who occupy what is called the ‘Honor Pod,’ Petitioner is forced to live in dangerous sections of the jail that are notorious for housing the Bloods, MS-13, and highly dangerous Cartel members,” the filing says. “NNRJ does this to punish Petitioner by making him live in a constant state of fear and anxiety about what may happen to him at any given moment.”
The complaint includes email correspondence between McBride and Hull, the jail superintendent. In the emails, Hull repeatedly claims that Quaglin’s rights are being protected, that he is receiving celiac-compliant food, being offered medication, and that it is McBride and Quaglin who are causing problems.
“Documentation reflects that your information is inaccurate,” Hull said in a March 9 email. “While there is evidence to suggest that your client is less than compliant with his dietary requirements, he is nonetheless being provided a menu that is consistent with his medical condition.”
Hull claimed that Quaglin was only served a standard lunch one time, and it was an “incidental mistake.”
McBride complained that Quaglin was put in solitary confinement after an altercation with “a member of a notorious international street gang,” but Hull claimed that Quaglin was the one who was “responsible for the fight.”
When McBride threatened to file a lawsuit if he was not allowed to have a video conference with his client, Hull replied: “Then sue me.”
Asked about Hull’s assertions, McBride told American Greatness that the superintendent is an “evil piece of human trash,” and a “lying scumbag who has been hurting people over there forever.”
He said the prison has been purposefully serving Quaglin food that they know will make him sick, including Cream of Wheat. McBride said Quaglin is “rotting from the inside out” because he has been denied the diet he needs to stay healthy.
What’s more, McBride told American Greatness Quaglin was not responsible for the “fight” with the gangbanger. The two had exchanged words, and when Quaglin offered to talk it out (because he’s a stand-up guy, according to McBride), the gangbanger lured him to an isolated spot where they could do just that. The thug proceeded to beat Quaglin outside the view of the guards to the point that he required eight stitches next to his right eye.
During his discussion with Horowitz, McBride called the disturbing state of affairs a form of “anarcho-tyranny” and said we are living under a regime that “hates God, hates patriotism, hates the United States of America, and views the United States of America as an obstacle to the achievement of its global order.”
That spirit is what you find personified in someone like Merrick Garland, the attorney general of the United States, and somebody like Joe Biden, the president of the United States. When Joe Biden goes up there and calls these people ‘insurrectionists,’ and calls these people ‘terrorists,’ even though they haven’t been charged with insurrection, even though they haven’t been charged with terrorism, why is he doing that? He is doing that to create a subhuman, sub-constitutional class of people.
He said it is the same evil that manifested itself in Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, and Nero’s Rome.
That zebra doesn’t change its stripes. So when he’s up there talking about these people, and saying that they are subhuman, sub-terrorist insurrectionists, everybody in that prison system who has a badge and uniform on that believes what he is saying, feels inspired, and feels green-lighted to light these people up. To torture them, to spit on them, to smack them, to mace them, to laugh at them, to mock them.
“I have literally heard hundreds of stories where officers would go to the cell where someone is praying on their knees with the Bible, and say to them, ‘where is your God now?’” McBride said. “That’s evil! That’s the deepest part of evil.”
McBride told Horowitz that there is a criminal case to be made against the abusive prison officials in court, and his team is documenting everything.
We are making the case in civil court and in criminal court, and we’re going to sue them for millions of dollars in each of these cases for the myriad of abuses that have taken place. But in order for that to happen, we have to go through it. In order for that to happen, these guys have to hold fast and abide in very difficult circumstances. They are trying to break these men and they are financially crippling their families, as well. In order for us to get to the point where these civil rights lawsuits can become right, people have to endure.
This cruel disregard for basic human rights is all part of the regime’s effort to dehumanize the January 6ers, McBride said.
“We have to fight and we’re made to look like outliers and nut jobs because we are advocating for the truth,” the lawyer told Horowitz. He said the reason the regime has been able to get away with so many violations of human rights is because they were able to label Trump supporters as subhumans.
“They were able to label an entire political class as problematic and they used the full prosecutorial apparatus of the United States government to descend upon them and their families to send ‘shock and awe’ into middle America, the Southwest, and the West,” McBride said.
American Greatness reached out to both the Northern Neck Regional Jail and the D.C. Central Detention Facility for comment on the allegations of abuse, but did not hear back.