House Speaker Mike Johnson said Friday he would make good on his promise to release 44,000 hours of security footage from the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Johnson originally made the promise to win over far-right Republicans in his bid for the Speakership. He was praised for the move by both Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and former president Donald Trump on his Truth Social platform.
“This decision will provide millions of Americans, criminal defendants, public interest organizations, and the media an ability to see for themselves what happened that day, Johnson said in a statement, “rather than having to rely upon the interpretation of a small group of government officials.”
While some footage and photos of the Jan. 6 attack have been circulated online since the incident, much of the video captured by surveillance cameras has remained private. Johnson’s predecessor, Speaker Kevin McCarthy, previously gave Fox News host Tucker Carlson exclusive access to the surveillance camera footage of the attack in February, a move which was criticized by Democratic lawmakers as a security breach.
“Unfortunately, the apparent disclosure of sensitive video material is yet another example of the grave threat to the security of the American people represented by the extreme MAGA Republican majority,” said Jeffries, D-N.Y. in a letter to other members of the House in February.
Critics have warned that the released footage could present a danger to the security of staff and public officials in the Capitol, as it includes both how rioters breached the building and how lawmakers fled to safety.
“It’s really a road map to people who might want to attack the Capitol again,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif. “It would be of huge assistance to them.”
Johnson said about 90 hours of security footage would be made public on Friday, with the rest to be released over the coming months, and a public viewing room would be set up in the Capitol.