Nov 17, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Mike Johnson to release 40,000 hours of Jan. 6 footage

Speaker Mike Johnson. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) on Friday announced the public release of more than 40,000 hours of Capitol security footage from Jan. 6, 2021.

Why it matters: The move meets a key demand of the Republicans' right flank as conservatives simmer at Johnson for passing a stopgap spending bill along bipartisan lines.

What they're saying: "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.

  • Johnson said the decision will "provide millions of Americans, criminal defendants, public interest organizations, and the media an ability to see for themselves what happened that day, rather than having to rely upon the interpretation of a small group of government officials."
  • Private citizens' faces will be blurred to "avoid any persons from being targeted for retaliation," Johnson said.

The details: Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), the chair of the House Administration Committee's oversight subcommittee, which oversees the footage, said the footage will be available on a page on the panel's website.

  • After the initial tranche of around 90 hours of footage, the panel "will continue to populate the viewing room with additional footage for public view," Loudermilk said in a statement.
  • Johnson's office said the remaining footage will be posted in waves over the next several months.

Zoom in: The committee said members of the public will be able to make appointments to view the footage on terminals, with priority given to lawmakers, Jan. 6 defendants and their lawyers, Jan. 6 victims, American news outlets and non-profits in that order.

  • Johnson said that around 5% of the available footage is being withheld because it "may involve sensitive security information related to the building architecture."
  • Jan. 6 defendants and victims can request access to the withheld footage if it was not made available by prosecutors, contains exculpatory evidence and will be used in their legal cases but not shared publicly.

The other side: The top Democrat on the House Administration Committee blasted the release.

  • "While the name on the door to the Speaker's suite has changed, the office's mission to undermine the Capitol Police and politicize Capitol security continues unabated," Rep. Joe Morelle (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.
  • Morelle called it "unconscionable" to allow "virtually unfettered access" to the footage "over the strenuous objections of the security professionals within the Capitol Police[.]"

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include the statement from Rep. Morelle.

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