Attorney Joseph McBride appeared to derail his own CNN interview during Tuesday morning’s broadcast of “New Day.”
McBride joined guest host John Avlon to discuss the eight-month sentence that was just handed down for convicted Capitol rioter Paul Hodgkins and what that could mean for his client, Richard Barnett, who was famously photographed sitting behind Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk. (RELATED: Capitol Rioter Gets Prison Time In First Felony Sentence)
Avlon noted that Hodgkins’ plea agreement included the acknowledgement that President Joe Biden was, in fact, the president of the United States — and he asked whether Barnett was prepared to issue a similar statement.
McBride declined to speak for his client on that point, saying that his client’s actions were covered under the First Amendment.
Avlon pushed back, asking whether he was saying that the First Amendment protected a citizen’s right to attack the Capitol.
“No, I’m saying that there are people who showed up to attack the Capitol, there are people who showed up to protest, and there are people who showed up to protest that got involved with the greater events of that day. And it is very important not to lump everybody in, not to define every protester that showed up that day as an insurrectionist — which, by the way, no one has been charged with,” McBride said.
“I think showing up to protest and winding up in the Speaker’s office seems to be a different standard,” Avlon objected. “You don’t enter the Speaker’s office as part of a violent mob, and just sort of end up there willy nilly. I think there’s a clear difference on that point.”
Avlon then pointed to an essay McBride had written, comparing the treatment and conditions facing rioters who were being held pending trial to those faced by prisoners in the gulags or in Nazi Germany.
“Look, Nazi comparisons are usually a sign you have lost the argument, but do you believe the federal government is acting like Nazi Germany in the prosecution of the Capitol attackers?” Avlon asked.
“Look, let’s leave Nazis out of this conversation,” McBride protested.
“You brought them into it,” Avlon pointed out.
“Fair enough,” McBride conceded, adding, “Like the Nazis, and the Soviets, innocent men and women are being held in D.C. Guantanamo Bay, pretrial, absent any finding of fact. They’re being held for hundreds of days in solitary confinement, they’re being beaten, starved, denied medical care, denied the right to worship, they’re being cut off from their attorneys —”
Avlon pushed back, asking whether McBride had been denied the ability to communicate with his client — at which point McBride conceded that he had been able to secure Barnett’s release, pending trial.
Avlon argued there was no real indication that the Biden administration was acting like either the Nazi or the Soviet regime, adding, “Do you think if an attacker broke into the Kremlin and sat at Vladimir Putin’s desk he’d be treated better or worse than your client’s been treated after attacking the Speaker of the House’s office?”
“If the media and the United States government does not want to hold itself accountable for the human rights violations that are taking place at D.C. Guantanamo Bay, then who better to hold us accountable than the inventors of the gulag themselves?” McBride asked.
“That makes absolutely no sense,” Avlon responded, but McBride immediately pivoted to claim again that rioters were being tortured.
“People are being tortured. Tortured! Are you OK with people being tortured five miles from the White House?” he asked.
“You’re saying people are being tortured by the White House?” Avlon asked. “I just want to be clear because that’s an extraordinary statement that would seem to be utterly un-based in fact.”
McBride said that he was basing his claims in fact, but gave no evidence on-air. He continued to argue that rioters were being tortured, prompting Avlon to call for an end to the interview.
“Torture is never OK! TORTURE! TORTURE! TORTURE! TORTURE! TORTURE!” McBride yelled as Avlon wrapped the segment.
“Keep yelling torture. We’ll stick with the facts,” he said.
“The facts are torture!” McBride insisted as the cameras cut him off.