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Trump calls on Biden to release those jailed in connection to Jan. 6: "I call them hostages"

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Themes of 2024 election taking shape as Iowans prepare for caucus 01:54

Clinton, Iowa — Former President Donald Trump said Saturday at a campaign rally in Clinton, Iowa, that President Biden should release Jan. 6 rioters who are serving prison time for their actions during the attack on the U.S. Capitol

"Release the J6 hostages, Joe," Trump said. "Release them, Joe. You can do it real easy, Joe." 

Trump made the comments three years since the day of the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. It's unclear who he meant would be released since many of those who were convicted of misdemeanors have already served out their sentences.  

Nearly 1,200 people have so far been charged in connection with the Capitol riot. More than 700 have pleaded guilty, a majority of them to misdemeanors, while more than 100 have been convicted at jury or bench trials in Washington, D.C. Many of those who pleaded guilty to misdemeanors have already completed their sentences. 

Donald Trump Holds Campaign Event In Clinton, Iowa As He Runs For President
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks to guests during a rally at Clinton Middle School on January 06, 2024 in Clinton, Iowa.  Scott Olson / Getty Images

The harshest sentences related to the riot went to Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, who received a 21-year prison sentence last September, for his role in planning the assault, and Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, who was sentenced to 18 years in May 2022.

A CBS News poll released Saturday found two-thirds of Republicans support Trump's suggestion to grant pardons to those involved in the Jan. 6 attacks.

"It's disgraceful for Donald Trump to be saying what he's saying," said former Republican Rep. Liz Cheney on "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "You can't say that you're pro-law enforcement if you then go out and you say these people are hostages." 

In a campaign speech in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, on Friday, Mr. Biden called the rioters "Trump's mob" — highlighting a key theme of his reelection campaign. 

"Trump's mob wasn't a peaceful protest; it was a violent assault," Mr. Biden said. "They were insurrectionists, not patriots. They weren't there to uphold the Constitution; they were there to destroy the Constitution."

The search for those who may have committed crimes is ongoing, with three more fugitives wanted in connection with Jan. 6 having been apprehended on this Saturday. According to investigators, 140 police officers were assaulted at the Capitol on Jan. 6, and five officers died in the days and weeks after the riot. 

Trump's comments also came one day after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide whether Trump is ineligible to appear on Colorado's Republican primary ballot because of his actions leading up and on Jan. 6, 2021. In a 4-3 decision last month, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Trump is disqualified because he violated the Constitution's insurrection clause, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

Last week, Maine's secretary of state also determined that Trump was disqualified from appearing on that state's primary ballot. However, she suspended her decision to provide time for Trump's campaign to appeal. 

Robert Legare and Kerry Breen contributed to this report.

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