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Mike Johnson to release 44,000 hours of sensitive footage from January 6 | Mike Johnson

Mike Johnson

The Speaker of the US House of Representatives will keep his promise to far-right Republicans, including Matt Gaetz and Donald Trump

Associated Press

Fri November 17, 2023 8:46 p.m. EST

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Friday he plans to release thousands of hours of footage from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, fulfilling a promise he made to the far-right members of his party while campaigning for his party. actual job.

“This decision will give millions of Americans, defendants, public interest organizations and the media the opportunity to see for themselves what happened that day, rather than having to rely “up to the interpretation of a small group of government officials,” Johnson said in a statement. statement.

The newly elected chairman said the first tranche of security footage, about 90 hours, will be posted on the committee’s public website on Friday, with the remainder of the 44,000 hours expected to be released over the coming months. In the meantime, a public screening room will be set up at the Capitol.

In recent 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 others. The video shows some of the fighting up close and gives a bird’s eye view of the Capitol complex — which visitors rarely see — as hundreds of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the building, violently attacking police officers and entering breaking in through windows and doors.

By expanding this access to the general public, Johnson is fulfilling one of the promises he made last month to the most conservative members of his party, including Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, who orchestrated the ouster of the former president, Kevin McCarthy. Gaetz and Trump — who is currently running for re-election while facing federal charges for his role in the Jan. 6 attack — applauded Johnson’s decision.

In a post on his Truth Social platform, Trump praised the speaker “for having the courage and courage” to release the footage.

Johnson’s decision will grant the general public stunning access to sensitive and explicit security footage from January 6, which many critics fear could endanger the safety of staff and members of Congress in the Capitol complex if it were released. in the wrong hands. The hours of footage detail not only the rioters’ shocking assault on U.S. Capitol Police as they entered the building, but also how the rioters gained access to the building and the routes lawmakers took to flee to the building. security.

A request for comment from Capitol Police was declined.

Johnson said Friday that the committee was processing the images to blur individuals’ faces “to prevent any person from being the target of retaliation of any kind.” He added that about 5% of the images will not be made public because they “may involve sensitive security information related to the architecture of the building.”

Striking images and videos of the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters have been widely distributed by documentarians, news organizations and even the rioters themselves. But until this year, authorities withheld much of the surveillance video from hundreds of security cameras stationed in and around the Capitol.

In February, McCarthy gave then-Fox News host Tucker Carlson exclusive access to the footage, a move that Democrats quickly condemned as a “serious” security violation with potentially far-reaching consequences.

The conservative commentator aired a first episode to millions of viewers on his prime-time show in the spring, working to transform perceptions of the violent and grueling siege that unfolded in full view of the world into a pro-Trump narrative.

It’s all part of a broader effort by Republicans to redefine the narrative around the deadly insurrection following the House committee’s findings on Jan. 6 of last year. The select committee of seven Democrats and two Republicans spent months painstakingly documenting, using testimony and video evidence, how Trump rallied his supporters to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell” as Congress certified his defeat against Democrat Joe Biden.

The committee’s final report released last December concluded that Trump criminally engaged in a “multi-part conspiracy” to overturn the legal results of the 2020 presidential election and failed to act to stop his supporters from attacking Capitol.

The committee turned its investigation over to the Justice Department, recommending that federal prosecutors investigate the former president for four crimes, including aiding an insurrection. In August, Trump was indicted on four counts for his role in the attack, with the Justice Department accusing him of undermining the “fundamental function” of democracy.

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