In a move that has drawn criticism from Democrats, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R., La.) has made public video footage from the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Speaker Johnson emphasized the need for truth and transparency, stating that every citizen should have access to uncensored videos. The footage, which is available on the GOP-led Committee on House Administration’s website, can also be viewed through in-person appointments at the committee’s oversight subcommittee offices.
The release of approximately 90 hours of security video has sparked controversy among Democrats, who argue that it undermines the country and compromises the safety of those working on Capitol Hill. Rep. Joe Morelle (D., N.Y.), the top Democrat on the panel, condemned Speaker Johnson’s decision, stating that allowing unfettered access to sensitive Capitol security footage endangers colleagues, staff, visitors, and the nation. The Capitol Police have yet to comment on the matter.
The January 6 attack saw supporters of then-President Donald Trump storm the Capitol, resulting in the evacuation of lawmakers and then-Vice President Mike Pence. The riot briefly disrupted the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election victory. Four deaths were confirmed by the Washington Medical Examiner’s office in connection with the events.
The release of the footage by House Republicans comes after complaints from parts of the Republican base, who argue that the select committee formed by former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) distorted the events of that day. Democrats, however, have defended the select committee, suggesting that it provided an accurate account of the attack. It has also been suggested that there may be national security risks associated with the disclosure of a wider range of video footage.
Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R., Ga.), the chairman of the Administration Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee, echoed the call for transparency. He stated that the American people deserve factual answers instead of a predetermined political narrative. Earlier this year, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) granted Fox News access to the security videos, resulting in accusations that the broadcaster misrepresented the events of the day.
As the videos are processed, efforts will be made to blur the faces of private citizens shown on the unreleased tapes. Additionally, approximately 5% of the footage, which may contain sensitive security information, will be segregated. Priority access to the viewing terminals will be given to lawmakers, individuals charged with crimes related to the January 6 attack, those who were harmed, and the media.