House Republicans are pushing to grant the January 6 defendants access to raw Capitol surveillance footage from the protests near and inside the Capitol. The move is intended to provide due process to the defendants and their attorneys in their ongoing legal cases.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) recently allowed Tucker Carlson with Fox News to view segments of 41,000 hours of surveillance footage, which will air on Carlson’s show in the coming weeks. In addition, House Republicans are working on a system that will allow members of the media and the public to access some January 6 records.
— Chris 🇺🇸 (@Chris_1791) February 28, 2023
Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), who chairs the House Administration Committee’s oversight subpanel, said that access for defendants in the criminal cases brought by Joe Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) and others would be granted on a “case-by-case basis.”
Loudermilk added, “Everyone accused of a crime in this country deserves due process, which includes access to evidence which may be used to prove their guilt or innocence.” The move in the name of protecting fundamental civil rights is likely to be blasted by Democrats, who have already described the release of the security footage to Carlson an “egregious security breach” that “exposes the Capitol complex.”
Republicans are still discussing the plan’s logistics, including whether any footage given to January 6 defendants and their attorneys can be used as evidence at trial, making the material directly available to the public.
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) noted that any material permitted to leave the Capitol would be scrutinized to avoid exposing sensitive information that hasn’t already been made public. McCarthy said that he ultimately envisions releasing nearly all of the January 6 surveillance footage publicly, with exceptions for sensitive security information.
The decision to let Carlson view the footage has already been raised in two ongoing January 6 criminal cases. Joseph McBride, an attorney for defendant Ryan Nichols, claimed he had already been permitted to review the footage. It’s unclear if the DOJ has requested similar access. In addition, attorneys for the Capitol Police have argued repeatedly in court that public access to security footage could provide a guide to criminals intending any future assault on the Capitol.
People familiar with former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s January 6 select committee investigation have said material aired by the panel was subject to intensive negotiations with the Capitol Police. Some of the footage shown by the committee had been previously made public in ongoing criminal cases stemming from the protests.