By Annie Grayer, Jamie Gangel, Alayna Treene and Hannah Rabinowitz | CNN
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy granted Fox News host Tucker Carlson access to all security footage of the Capitol as of Jan. 6, multiple sources told CNN.
The highly unusual move — a House speaker handing over a massive amount of internal government material to a friendly media outlet — comes after the California Republican faced significant pressure from his right wing over the work of the House selection committee responsible for the January 6 attacks. investigated again. 2021, uprising.
During his bid for the speakership, McCarthy promised to hold hearings about the security flaws that led to the Capitol being overrun, and he told the select committee to retain all of its records for possible future review by the newly authorized GOP majority.
Carlson has been one of the most leading promoters January 6 conspiracy theories. Most notably, he did spent a lot of airtime to the false claim that liberal “deep state” partisans within the FBI orchestrated the uprising as a way to undermine former President Donald Trump. He has conducted sympathetic interviews with some of the rioters subsequently charged by the Justice Department.
Several GOP lawmakers within McCarthy’s ranks had hoped to review the material themselves, likely hunting for footage that would controversial claims about the uprising of 6 January. By giving the videos to Carlson, McCarthy is essentially outsourcing the task to right-wing media outlets, at least for now.
Axios was the first to mention McCarthy’s arrangement with Carlson.
A Fox News spokesperson told CNN the Axios report was accurate, but declined further comment. Carlson said Axios“there was never a legitimate reason to keep this footage a secret” and that the videos will shed light on “what really happened on January 6.”
Hakeem Jeffries, leader of the House Minority, the chamber’s top Democrat, was not consulted about the release of the security footage, a well-known source told CNN. Another source told CNN that McCarthy did not consult his GOP leadership team before making the decision.
The now-defunct Jan. 6 commission was granted access to all U.S. Capitol Police security footage during its investigation, but did not release certain clips for security reasons. A source familiar with the panel’s work told CNN that the unreleased footage was considered particularly sensitive because it showed the movements of top officials as they evacuated to safety.
Tim Mulvey, a former spokesperson for the January 6 commission, denounced McCarthy’s move in a statement to CNN, saying, “It’s hard to overstate the potential safety risks if this material were used irresponsibly” by Carlson or others.
“When the Jan. 6 Select Committee was given access to video footage from the U.S. Capitol Police, it was treated with great sensitivity given the safety concerns of lawmakers, staff and the Capitol complex,” Mulvey said. “Access was restricted to members and a small handful of detectives and senior personnel, and public use of all footage was coordinated in advance with Capitol Police.”
CNN has contacted the US Capitol Police for comment.
When asked at a news conference last month how some Republicans previously urged former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to release full security footage from Jan. 6, McCarthy showed his support by saying, “Yeah, I think the public needs to see what happened.”
In court, federal prosecutors have long tried to keep certain CCTV footage of the Capitol complex hidden from the public, saying in court that their release poses a risk to national security and could provide vital insight to bad actors who may be planning a future attack. plan. US Capitol Police share the same concerns.
The Jan. 6 defendants have access to thousands of hours of unreleased footage from the attack, as well as from an online database, but the videos are tightly controlled by a protection order and the defendants are not allowed to release the clips publicly.
“Once the capabilities of a U.S. Capitol surveillance camera, including its position and whether it pans, tilts or zooms, are revealed to the public through the release of a single video from that camera, the cat is out of the bag,” Justice said. . Department prosecutors wrote in a July 2021 lawsuit.
After more than a dozen news outlets, including CNN, sued for access to the videos in 2021, the chief judge of the DC federal court ruled that the public has a strong interest in seeing security footage of the attack. However, these video releases are not automatic or guaranteed. News outlets may request the public release of videos on a case-by-case basis after they have been played in open court.