McCarthy Agrees to Full Public Release of Jan. 6 Tapes

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
March 9, 2023Politics
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McCarthy Agrees to Full Public Release of Jan. 6 Tapes
U.S. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks to reporters outside of his office in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington on March 7, 2023. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has agreed to a full public release of the security footage recorded at the U.S. Capitol during the events of Jan. 6, 2021.

In an interview with Breitbart News that aired on Thursday, McCarthy discussed his decision to share the footage with Fox News host Tucker Carlson and said defendants who are facing charges after going to the Capitol on Jan. 6 should be able to see the footage for their own defense in court.

When asked whether he would fully release the Capitol security footage to the public, the Republican House speaker responded in the affirmative before adding that the footage would first have to go through a security review.

“We just want to make sure we go through them all, and it takes time,” he said.

McCarthy’s assurance that he would pursue a broad public release of the security footage comes as a growing number of January 6 defendants have asked for their trials to be delayed so they can review the security footage.

McCarthy told Breitbart he was making no personal judgment about what the security footage shows, but said that “to be fair in equal justice, if there’s any person that’s accused, they should be able to have a right to see the tapes to make their own defense.”

Some of the Capitol security footage that Carlson aired on Monday night showed police officers leading Jacob Chansley—the so-called QAnon Shaman—around the building. Carlson described the officers as having acted like “tour guides” for Chansley, who pleaded guilty to a count of “obstruction of an official proceeding” and was sentenced to more than four and a half years in prison.

After seeing the new footage shared by Carlson, Chansley’s former attorney Albert Watkins told Fox News he had not been able to review this same footage before his client signed a plea agreement. Watkins said he had requested any evidence that could support his client’s innocence and, regardless of his own requests for the footage, said prosecutors had “an absolute duty” to provide such evidence.

Democrats Say McCarthy Jeopardizing Capitol Security

Several Democratic lawmakers have accused McCarthy of jeopardizing the security of the U.S. Capitol with his decision to share security footage with Carlson and, potentially, the broader public.

In an interview with MSNBC, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) said that by sharing the Jan. 6 Capitol security footage, McCarthy “just gave the proudest boy of all a blueprint for the Capitol … who knows where that will land for the next insurrection.”

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) has said McCarthy “owes the American people an explanation of why he has done so and what steps he has taken to address the significant security concerns at stake.”

Republicans have pushed back on claims that they are compromising security by sharing the footage. Last week, Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) said Carlson’s Fox News team was only allowed to view the tapes under a controlled setting and had to request footage, which would then go through a security review, before the production team could have a copy.

During the Breitbart News interview, McCarthy again said a security team is reviewing the footage before sharing it with members of the news media or the broader public. McCarthy said the review is looking for various security details that would need to be protected, like special exits for lawmakers.

“The most interesting thing, when I sat down, when I had the team talk to the Capitol police about making sure they had no problems with the exits and so on, they said [the Democrat-led Jan. 6 Committee], never asked them that,” McCarthy told Breitbart, adding that the committee “showed the exit of the vice president, they showed the exit from my office, they literally had [then-House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi’s daughter showing a secure location that they take the leadership. That’s not supposed to be known to anybody, and CNN reported it, and I don’t remember the press ever getting upset with that.”

McCarthy also pushed back on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) after the senator accused Carlson of downplaying the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and called for Fox News to stop Carlson from sharing additional footage.

“I wish Chuck Schumer would read the Constitution,” McCarthy said. “The Democrats always go to censorship. … They want to use government as much as they can to censor people.”

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