House GOP ignored Capitol Police requests to review public Jan. 6 footage, lawyer says

House Republicans ignored the Capitol Police’s repeated requests to review and approve all Jan. 6 security footage they planned to release publicly, the force’s top lawyer asserted in a sworn affidavit filed Friday.

Only one of the more than 40 riot clips that Fox News’ Tucker Carlson aired earlier this month using access granted by the House GOP got previewed and approved beforehand, according to Capitol Police general counsel Thomas DiBiase. The rest, DiBiase said, “were never shown to me nor anyone else from the Capitol Police.”

In a six-page declaration filed as part of a Jan. 6 criminal case, DiBiase described the timeline by which Republicans obtained access to the 41,000 hours of footage captured by Capitol security cameras on Jan. 6. The filing itself is an uncomfortable moment for the Capitol Police — which, as a result of the case, has been forced to describe private interactions with members and staffers in open court.

The department is typically loath to appear at odds with House leaders in particular, since it relies on the majority party for its budget and are charged with protecting its members.

Last month Republicans started requesting the same footage that the Jan. 6 select committee had access to. Those requests came first from Tim Monahan — who doubles as a top aide to Speaker Kevin McCarthy and as a staff director for the House Administration Committee — and then from Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Wis.), the chair of that panel, which has jurisdiction over Capitol security.

Within days, DiBiase indicated, the Capitol Police installed three terminals in a House office building to grant access to the footage. And DiBiase said he also provided four hard drives he had received from the Democratic-led Jan. 6 panel after it completed its work.

“At no time was I nor anyone else from the Capitol Police informed that anyone other than personnel from [the House Administration Committee] would be reviewing the camera footage,” DiBiase indicated.

Later last month, media reports indicated that McCarthy had granted access to the footage to Carlson’s producers. DiBiase said he later learned that “personnel from the Tucker Carlson Show were allowed to view whatever footage they wanted while supervised by staff from [the House Administration Committee] but that no footage had been physically turned over to the show.”

A week later, Monahan requested a list of Capitol Police cameras that were deemed “sensitive” because they include details about evacuation routes or locations such as intelligence committee facilities.

“We worked with the Capitol Police ahead of time to identify any security-sensitive footage and made sure it wasn’t released," said Mark Bednar, a spokesperson for McCarthy. “In subsequent conversations, the USCP General Counsel confirmed that the department concluded there are no security concerns with what was released."

A GOP committee aide, asked about the statements in the affidavit, noted that the Republicans asked the Capitol Police for a list of security sensitive cameras “to ensure anything on the list requested by Tucker was approved by USCP, which we did.”

The aide added that Capitol Police “told us they had no concern with what was released,” but didn’t immediately respond to follow up questions about if that comment came before or after the footage aired on Fox, and if it applied to both the clip Capitol Police was able to review and those that they say they weren’t.

DiBiase emphasized that in “numerous conversations” over “several weeks,” he informed Monahan that the Capitol Police wanted “to review every footage clip, whether it was on the Sensitive List or not, if it was going to be made public.” The Jan. 6 select committee had gone through that process with the department “in all cases,” DiBiase said, as had federal prosecutors pursuing cases against hundreds of Capitol riot defendants.

“Of the numerous clips shown during the Tucker Carlson show on March 6 and 7, 2023, I was shown only one clip before it aired, and that clip was from the Sensitive List,” he continued. “Since that clip was substantially similar to a clip used in the Impeachment Trial and was publicly available, I approved the use of the clip. The other approximately 40 clips, which were not from the Sensitive List, were never shown to me nor anyone else from the Capitol Police.”

DiBiase left some key details about his interactions with the House Administration Committee unanswered. For example, he didn’t indicate whether anyone on the panel had agreed to his requests for a preview of the footage.

Notably, DiBiase indicated that the House managers of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial after the Jan. 6 attack, who used about 15 Capitol security camera clips, did not preview them with the department before using them in the February 2021 proceedings. Those clips included “some from the Sensitive List.” The footnote caught the attention of Republicans who pointed to it on Friday, as an example of when Democrats had provided “zero consultation.”

Bednar also pointed to the impeachment trial footage and said House Republicans had taken more steps to protect security sensitive material than impeachment managers did.

Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger said in a statement earlier this month that he has little control over the footage once it’s provided to lawmakers.

Manger himself fiercely criticized Carlson and Fox News’ handling of the footage, saying it minimized the violence and chaos of Jan. 6 and portrayed Capitol Police officers’ actions in a “misleading” and “offensive” light.

DiBiase’s statement came in the case of William Pope, a Jan. 6 defendant who is representing himself and has moved to publicly release a trove of Jan. 6 security footage. Several other Jan. 6 defendants have cited Carlson’s access to the trove of footage in their own pending matters and said they intend to seek access. But, DiBiase noted in the affidavit, while Administration staff had said last week that no footage had been shown to any defendant or defense counsel, the Capitol Police had received additional requests to review the footage.

McCarthy’s decision to release the footage sparked weeks of questions for House Republicans. It's also just the beginning of GOP lawmakers' work to relitigate the attack, with the Administration Committee currently reviewing the previous Jan. 6 select committee’s work and promising to investigate Capitol security decisions leading up to the day. Meanwhile, Republicans on the House Oversight Committee are planning a trip to visit the individuals jailed in connection with Jan. 6.

McCarthy has defended his decision to give access to the footage to Carlson, who has falsely portrayed the attack as nonviolent. The speaker and House Administration Committee members have pledged to release the footage more widely.

“I think putting it out all to the American public, you can see the truth, see exactly what transpired that day and everybody can have the exact same” access, McCarthy recently told reporters. “My intention is to release it to everyone.”

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Jan. 6 panel lets Trump allies narrate the case against him

The Jan. 6 select committee won’t personally tell the story of Donald Trump’s bid to subvert the 2020 election. Instead, they’re letting Trump’s own aides, confidants and family members do it for them.

The panel made clear at its first public hearing Thursday that it would rather let Trump’s own inner circle stitch together the details of the former president’s actions to remain in power — and his inaction as a mob of supporters overran the Capitol. Videos showed Ivanka Trump, former Attorney General William Barr and Trump campaign advisers testify that the former president had really lost the 2020 election, as committee members mostly remained in the background.

“These aren’t partisan voices that are speaking out and saying we don’t like Donald Trump,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), one of dozens of Democratic lawmakers who sat in the audience for the hearing. “This is his own attorney general, the White House counsel, his daughter for Pete’s sake.”

The panel has for 10 months quietly amassed an enormous trove of video depositions, compiled from its more than 1,000 witness interviews. Now, as Republicans accuse the panel of a partisan witch hunt, members are strategically deploying the audio and video to communicate a simple point: Trump’s own allies believe — and told him — his actions were wrong.

“Don’t believe me?” select committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) intoned roughly seven minutes into the two-hour primetime hearing. “Hear what his former Attorney General had to say about it.”

The subsequent clip — in which Barr described Trump’s claims of election fraud as “bullshit” — marked the start of a cavalcade of video excerpts, showing the former president’s orbit directly contradicting his false claims of election fraud. In one of them, Ivanka Trump said she agreed with Bill Barr’s assessment.

“I respect Attorney General Barr so I accepted what he was saying,” she told the committee.

The panel hinted that there was much more testimony to come. The witness clips they played only amounted to a few minutes in length, serving as more of a table-setter for the five remaining hearings in the next two weeks. The committee’s vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), summarized in her opening statement what some of the more explosive clips would show.

“You will hear testimony, live and on video, from more than a half dozen former Trump White House staff, all of whom were in the West Wing of the White House that day,” she said.

“You will hear that President Trump was yelling, and ‘really angry at advisers who told him he needed to be doing something more,’” she continued. “And, aware of the rioters’ chants to ‘hang Mike Pence,’ the president responded with this sentiment: ‘maybe our supporters have the right idea.’ Mike Pence ‘deserves’ it.”

Trump aides featured in deposition clips Thursday also included campaign advisers Jason Miller and Alex Cannon, who told the select committee they had pointed out to Trump that there was not enough evidence of fraud to overturn the election results. Miller, according to a previously released excerpt of his transcript, said Trump responded to their arguments by saying they had underestimated the likelihood of prevailing in court.

And in a previously unreported interview, Gen. Mark Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the select committee that during the violence on Jan. 6, Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows urged him to “establish the narrative that the president is still in charge and that things are steady or stable.”

“I immediately interpreted that as politics, politics, politics,” he said.

The panel also displayed previously released text messages from Fox News anchor Sean Hannity to Trump White House officials after Jan. 6, urging them to help guide Trump out of office without further chaos.

“Key now, no more crazy people,” Hannity wrote. “No more stolen election talk.”

The multimedia-heavy strategy is a direct acknowledgment that Congress’ previous efforts to unfurl high-profile investigative findings have often failed to connect with the broader public. The committee made clear that it intends to deploy powerful visuals to showcase the vast amount of evidence they had obtained. It’s an extension of the strategy they used during the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump, when they aired early videos of the Jan. 6 violence.

Committee members are hoping that leaning on former Trump officials and allies would stand a better chance of influencing persuadable voters, who might have tuned out the panel’s investigation as it mainly focused on behind-the-scenes interviews for months.

“I think it’s very important,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a committee member, said in a brief interview about using the clips. “These are people appointed by the president … and it shows the president’s, the former president’s, culpability.”

The panel closed its first hearing with a video montage of a half dozen members of the Jan. 6 mob, all of whom pleaded guilty to crimes for their actions that day. Those defendants, who cooperated with the select committee, all claimed that they went to the Capitol for one reason: because Trump asked them to.

The committee also aired Trump’s own words to hammer their point home, using his September 2020 debate-stage comment urging the right-wing extremist Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” — a comment the group interpreted as a call to action. The Proud Boys would later respond to Trump’s call for a “wild” protest in D.C. on Jan. 6 and become some of the key instigators of the day’s most devastating violence, congressional and Justice Department investigators say.

The committee also showed how Trump’s tweet attack on his own vice president, Mike Pence — just minutes after rioters smashed their way into the Capitol — was quickly digested by the swelling crowd and exacerbated the violence. Pence’s centrality to Trump’s plan will be the focus of an entire hearing next week, featuring the former vice president’s former counsel, Greg Jacob. The committee teased his importance on Thursday night by making Pence’s break from Trump — when he refused to embrace Trump’s push to disrupt or delay the counting of electoral votes —the subject of yet another video excerpt.

“I think he ultimately knew that his fidelity to the Constitution was his first and foremost oath,” Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, told the committee.

“His fidelity to the Constitution was more important than his fidelity to President Trump,” one of the investigators responded.

Short replied, “The oath he took, yes.”

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