House Speaker Starts Releasing Jan. 6 Footage

Mike Johnson says he'll eventually post 44K hours' worth of video from the attack on US Capitol
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 18, 2023 9:30 AM CST
House Speaker Starts Releasing Jan. 6 Footage
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., meets with reporters at the Capitol in Washington on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Friday he plans to publicly release thousands of hours of footage from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, making good on a promise he made to far-right members of his party when he was campaigning for the job. "This decision will provide millions of Americans, criminal defendants, public interest organizations, and the media an ability to see for themselves what happened that day, rather than having to rely upon the interpretation of a small group of government officials," Johnson said in a statement, per the AP. The newly elected speaker said the first tranche of security footage, around 90 hours, would be released on a public committee website on Friday, with the rest of the 44,000 hours expected to be posted over the next several months. In the meantime, a public viewing room will also be set up in the Capitol for viewing the footage.

For the last several months, the GOP-led House Administration Committee has made the video available by appointment only to members of the media, criminal defendants, and a limited number of other people. The video shows some of the fighting up close and gives a bird's-eye view of the Capitol complex—one that visitors rarely see—as hundreds of former President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the building, violently attacking police officers and breaking in through windows and doors. By expanding this access to the general public, Johnson is fulfilling one of the pledges he made last month to the most conservative members of his party, including Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who orchestrated the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Both Gaetz and Trump—who's currently running for reelection as he faces federal charges for his role in the Jan. 6 attack—applauded Johnson's decision. In a post on his Truth Social platform, Trump congratulated the speaker "for having the courage and fortitude" to release the footage. The move by Johnson will grant the general public a stunning level of access to sensitive and explicit Jan. 6 security footage, which many critics have warned could endanger the safety of staff and members in the Capitol complex if it gets into the wrong hands.

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The hours of footage detail not only the shocking assault rioters made on US Capitol Police as they breached the building, but also how the rioters accessed the building and the routes lawmakers used to flee to safety. A request for comment from Capitol Police was declined. Johnson said Friday that the committee is processing the footage to blur the faces of individuals "to avoid any persons from being targeted for retaliation of any kind." He added that an estimated 5% of the footage won't be publicly released, as it "may involve sensitive security information related to the building architecture."

(More Mike Johnson stories.)

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