House Republicans will provide those facing charges in connection to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol with access to tens of thousands of hours of video footage, GOP leaders said Tuesday.
The move to provide the defendants with access to the surveillance tapes — which is also being granted to Fox News host Tucker Carlson — immediately raised legal, political and security questions.
Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), chair of the House Administration Subcommittee on Oversight who has been tasked with overseeing public requests and release of Jan. 6 videos and files, said on Tuesday that he will consider requests for access from Jan. 6 defendants.
“What I’ve heard is they haven’t had access to some [footage],” Loudermilk told The Hill. “So again, it’s a process of giving them access to terminals to review footage, and then if they actually want to put it to use in trial, go through the process to make sure there’s nothing sensitive.”
“We’re hurriedly but strategically putting together protocols. So hopefully we’ll have things next week to where people can request [access],” Loudermilk said.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys have had access to troves of videos and files from Jan. 6, according to various other reports. Defense attorneys have access to all of the materials in the Justice Department’s possession, according to the New York Times.
But according to one filing, the new trove of video House Republicans are moving to release goes beyond what they have had access to previously.
That legal brief filed Monday on behalf of Jan. 6 defendant Ryan Nichols, said that his team had already “obtained permission to examine the totality” of the new footage, and asked to delay the trial.
“41,000 hours is more than double the amount of CCTV footage previously thought to exist,” the filing said.
Joseph McBride, one of the lawyers from that case, tweeted thanks to Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for providing that access, which McBride claimed was denied under former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
“Pelosi hid this footage from us for 2 years while Americans were tried & convicted prior to a single juror ever hearing the truth,” McBride tweeted.
Yet, McCarthy — who on Tuesday endorsed the notion of allowing the Jan. 6 defendants to have access to the footage — also confused the debate in declaring that they’ve already had that access, even under Pelosi.
“I would supply them now, but they’ve already been supplied that. So they’ve had it all this time,” McCarthy told reporters. “The defendants have had this ability to have someone see the footage.”
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the select committee that investigated the Capitol riot, said the panel did not share video footage with the Justice Department prosecutors who have brought the charges against the defendants.
“No. To my knowledge we only shared depositions,” he said Tuesday.
Thompson also questioned what legal value the footage would provide for those who were charged for storming into the Capitol.
“I don’t know how sharing it would help the defendants’ case,” he said. ”Either the people broke into the Capitol, or they didn’t.”
It could take weeks or months before the material is made widely available, Loudermilk said.
“Now that we’re doing this and there’s transparency on it, we’re going to be inundated with people – you know, other committee, other members,” Loudermilk said. “Videos are one thing, documents are another. We have to be careful that we don’t release privacy information with all the documents.”