Speaker Johnson Announces Public Release Of January 6 Footage
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., listens during a press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Nov. 02, 2023, in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The GOP-led House began on Friday to release tens of thousands of hours of video footage from January 6, 2021 — the day of the U.S. Capitol breach — to the public.

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), who is less than a month into the job, announced the rolling disclosure of more than 40,000 hours of footage to a website. His office said the footage will not include a small portion of video that may contain sensitive security information or information that could lead to retaliation against private citizens.

“To restore America’s trust and faith in their Government we must have transparency. This is another step towards keeping the promises I made when I was elected to be your Speaker,” Johnson said in a post to X that shared a link to a House Administration Committee webpage with dozens of video files already posted.

Some Republican lawmakers and others have long pressed for the release of security footage of the day when a crowd of people entered the U.S. Capitol, disrupting lawmakers who were meeting to certify President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. Proponents of disclosure have argued a disclosure would show a different side to the mainstream narrative about January 6 that mainly focused on the violence that took place.

Indeed, some of the footage that was immediately released on Friday showed people walking down a hallway past law enforcement in an orderly fashion and even waving to officers.

Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-WY), one of the GOP lawmakers to show appreciation to Johnson for the release, said in a post to X, “Sunshine is the best disinfectant. It’s past time for the public to have information on what happened on January 6th. I thank the Speaker for his efforts.”

Johnson’s predecessor in the speaker’s role, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), did share with then-Fox News host Tucker Carlson roughly 41,000 hours of video earlier this year, after which Carlson aired previously unseen security footage of January 6 that also showed police officers appearing to stand by passively as people poured into the Capitol, drawing a sharp contrast to the more chaotic scenes often put on curated display by the January 6 Committee during its hearings.

Some criticized the disclosure to Carlson. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), who served as chairman of the January 6 Committee, warned of the potential security risks. The head of the Capitol Police criticized Carlson’s airing of a small portion of the footage as misleading and cherry-picked. And President Joe Biden scolded House Republicans, saying that he hoped they felt “ashamed for what was done to undermine our law enforcement.”

Others kept pushing for more disclosure. Various members of the media and January 6 defendants successfully gained restricted access to the footage in the fall using terminals overseen by the House Administration Committee.

Johnson said in his statement on Friday that a public viewing room will “ensure every citizen can view every minute of the videos uncensored” while the online roll-out takes place.

The speaker also thanked Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight for the Committee on House Administration, for working quickly to upload the videos online. In addition, Johnson said processing the videos will involve blurring out the faces of private citizens in yet-to-be-released tapes to prevent retaliation and “segregating” an estimated 5% of the footage that may involve “sensitive security information related to the building architecture.”

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