Almost 44,000 hours of footage of the Jan 6 disturbance will eventually be released
The US House of Representatives on Friday began publishing more than 44,000 hours of video from the January 6, 2021 riot at the US Capitol. House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, said the move was in the interest of "truth and transparency."
Thousands of supporters of then-President Donald Trump had gathered in Washington as both chambers of Congress met to certify the 2020 election for his Democrat challenger Joe Biden, which Trump claimed was rigged. Some of the protesters broke into the Capitol and interrupted the joint session. The Democrats have since labeled the riot an "insurrection against our democracy."
"Today, we will begin immediately posting video on a public website and move as quickly as possible to add to the website nearly all of the footage, more than 40,000 hours," Johnson said on X (formerly Twitter). In the meantime, a public viewing room "will ensure that every citizen can view every minute of the videos uncensored."
Johnson added that the videos will be processed to blur the faces of private citizens "to avoid any persons from being targeted for retaliation of any kind" and removing an estimated 5% of the footage that "may involve sensitive security information" about the Capitol's architecture.
"American people deserve transparency, accountability, and real answers supported by facts instead [of] a predetermined political narrative," said Representative Barry Loudermilk of Georgia, chair of the House Administration Subcommittee on Oversight.
This is the second attempt by the House Republicans to release the January 6 videos to the American public. In March, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy handed over some of the footage to TV host Tucker Carlson. Carlson aired some of it on his Fox News show, leading to the early release of Jacob Chansley, whom the media had dubbed the "QAnon Shaman."
The video showed Chansley peacefully walking through the Capitol with police escort, rather than a "violent insurrection" the Democrats - and some of the Republican allies - insisted had taken place. Fox did not air any more footage after that, and fired Carlson without an explanation in April.
Johnson became speaker last month, after a group of disgruntled Republicans initiated a vote to oust McCarthy, citing his broken promises. Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida, who led the rebellion against McCarthy, thanked Johnson for keeping his word, describing it as "a refreshing thing in the Swamp of DC."
The Biden administration has charged more than 1,000 Americans for a variety of crimes and misdemeanors connected to the Capitol riot. Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, who had not even been there, was given the longest sentence so far - 22 years behind bars for "seditious conspiracy."
No one has actually been charged with "insurrection," a specific phrase used in the 14th Amendment to disenfranchise Confederates after the Civil War. Democrats have invoked it in several legal challenges to block Trump from running for the White House again.