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Senate Republican criticizes Trump’s use of ‘hostages’ for Jan. 6 defendants: ‘There is no comparison’

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) on Sunday criticized former President Trump’s use of the term “hostages” to describe those imprisoned for actions they took on Jan. 6, 2021.

Asked on NBC News’s “Meet the Press” whether Trump’s use of that language bothers her, Ernst said, “It does in this context because we do have American hostages that are being held against their will all around the globe.”

Ernst pointed specifically to the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, when Hamas killed about 1,200 Israelis and took nearly 250 people as hostages, including some Americans.

“And especially if you look at the innocents that were attacked and kidnapped on October 7, we’re approaching nearly 100 days. These are people that have been taken. They’re held in tunnels with terrorists. They are being tortured. They have been raped. They have been denied medication,” Ernst said.

“So equating the two, there is no comparison,” she added. “Our Americans that are being held overseas — they are innocent. They were there celebrating the high Jewish holidays and were taken by these horrible terrorists. So there is no … equal term. The hostages are hostages.”

Trump, the GOP front-runner for president in 2024, has used the term “hostages” to refer to those jailed for actions taken in relation to the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

In just one example, Trump was applauded at a middle school in Clinton, Iowa, recently when he called for President Biden to release the “hostages.”

“They ought to release the J6 hostages,” Trump said. “I call them hostages. Some people call them prisoners. I call them hostages. Release the J6 hostages, Joe. Release them, Joe. You could do it real easy, Joe.”

Ernst urged Trump to speak with the families of the hostages held in Gaza before using that language.

“I would certainly, you know, ask to speak to any of their families and see the anguish and the pain of not knowing whether their loved ones are alive or dead. There is a very clear difference,” she said.

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