House GOP moving to let Jan. 6 defendants access Capitol security footage

House GOP moving to let Jan. 6 defendants access Capitol security footage

House Republicans are moving to provide defendants in Jan. 6-related cases access to thousands of hours of internal Capitol security footage, a move that could influence many of the ongoing prosecutions stemming from 2021’s violent attack.

Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), who chairs the House Administration Committee’s oversight subpanel, said that the access for accused rioters and others — which Speaker Kevin McCarthy has greenlighted — would be granted on a “case-by-case basis.”

“Everyone accused of a crime in this country deserves due process, which includes access to evidence which may be used to prove their guilt or innocence,” Loudermilk told POLITICO in a statement. “It is our intention to make available any relevant documents or videos, on a case-by-case basis, as requested by attorneys representing defendants.”

Loudermilk will be leading the effort given his senior Administration panel post, according to a senior Republican congressional aide who addressed the evolving decision on condition of anonymity. The GOP aide added that the new House majority is working on a system that eventually will allow members of the media and the public to access some Jan. 6 records as well.

The footage access plan, described by three people familiar with the discussions, follows McCarthy’s move to grant exclusive access to the 41,000 hours of internal Capitol film from the day of the riot to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. McCarthy and his allies are also making clear that there will be limits on the extent of material permitted to leave the tightly controlled confines of the Capitol, where Carlson’s team has been reviewing the footage for days.

“What gets released is obviously going to be scrutinized to make sure you’re not exposing any sensitive information that hasn’t already been exposed,” said Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.).

Similar measures would be taken with any footage opened up to Jan. 6 defendants and their lawyers, two of the people familiar said, though details of those steps remain unclear for now. Among the big logistical questions Republicans are still discussing: whether any footage they open up to defendants can be used in court proceedings, which would effectively make it public.

McCarthy’s decision to let Carlson view the footage from the violent riot by former President Donald Trump’s supporters has already been raised in two ongoing Jan. 6 criminal cases. In one instance, a lawyer for one of the Proud Boys charged with seditious conspiracy has asked prosecutors to determine whether they will access and share the footage; then on Tuesday morning, Joseph McBride, an attorney for Jan. 6 defendant Ryan Nichols, claimed he had already been given permission to review the footage.

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Author: By Kyle Cheney, Olivia Beavers and Sarah Ferris