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House Speaker Says GOP Lawmakers Blurred Out Faces In J6 Tapes To Prevent ‘Retaliation’

   DailyWire.com
Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) said on Tuesday that Republicans are blurring out the faces of individuals seen in the January 6 U.S. Capitol breach security camera footage — a move his office clarified would protect Americans from being identified by non-governmental investigators and private citizens.

“We have to blur some of the faces of persons who participated in the events of that day because we don’t want them to be retaliated against and to be charged by the DOJ and to have other, you know, concerns and problems,” Johnson told reporters during a House Republican Agenda briefing.

Johnson announced last month that the GOP-led House would begin rolling out the disclosure of more than 40,000 hours of footage to a website, except a small portion that may contain sensitive security information or information that could lead to retaliation against private citizens.

The decision to release the footage, he said at the time, would allow the American people, criminal defendants, public interest organizations, and the media to witness for themselves what happened on that infamous day rather than relying upon “a small group of government officials.” His remarks come as public trust in the U.S. government continues to sink to an all-time low.

“The release of the January 6 tapes is a critical, important exercise — we want transparency,” he said. “We trust — House Republicans trust — the American people to draw their own conclusions. They should not be dictated by some narrative and accept that as fact so they can review the tapes themselves.”

Although blurring out faces could prevent non-governmental investigators from using facial recognition software to help federal authorities track down those seen on the nation’s capital property, the Department of Justice accessed the footage almost immediately after the crowds were cleared.

“Faces are to be blurred from public viewing room footage to prevent all forms of retaliation against private citizens from any non-governmental actors,” Raj Shah, deputy chief of staff for communications in the Speaker’s office, told The Daily Wire in an emailed statement. “The Department of Justice already has access to raw footage from January 6, 2021.”

The footage has allowed prosecutors to bring roughly 1,200 criminal cases in connection to the breach.

The Daily Wire reached out to the Department of Justice for comment.

Some Republican lawmakers and others have long pressed for releasing security footage of the day when a crowd of people entered the U.S. Capitol, disrupting lawmakers’ meeting to certify President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.

House Republicans, including Johnson, have long criticized the January 6 Committee, which investigated the national capitol’s breach for over a year and a half.

In the final report summary, the committee, made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans, recommended criminal charges against former President Donald Trump for his role in the events that day — marking a historical moment in U.S. history as no former president has ever been the subject of a criminal referral from Congress.

Johnson called the committee a “partisan exercise.”

“They claimed that it was bipartisan, but I think we all recognize that the two ‘Republican’ members that served on that committee had another agenda,” Johnson said. “I think that what we got was a biased report. I think they hid some of the important evidence, and, look, we want the American people to draw their own conclusions.”

“I don’t think partisan elected officials in Washington should present a narrative and expect that it should be seen as the ultimate truth when we know that they hid certain elements,” he added.

Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) alleged in a Fox News interview in August that the committee failed to preserve some documents, data, and video depositions.

But Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the committee chairman on the nine-member panel, denied the allegations.

“The Select Committee did not archive temporary committee records that were not elevated by the Committee’s actions, such as use in hearings or official publications, or those that did not further its investigative activities,” Thompson wrote in August, according to The Hill. “Accordingly, and contrary to your letter’s implication, the Select Committee was not obligated to archive all video recordings of transcribed interviews or depositions.”

Daniel Chaitin contributed to this report.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  House Speaker Says GOP Lawmakers Blurred Out Faces In J6 Tapes To Prevent ‘Retaliation’