By Zachary Stieber
Jan. 6 defendants can access at least some of the security footage that the GOP has made available to Tucker Carlson, top Republicans say.
“It is our intention to make available any relevant videos and documents on a case-by-case basis as requested by attorney’s representing defendants,” Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), chairman of the House Administration’s Oversight Subcommittee, told news outlets in a statement.
All of the footage—approximately 42,000 hours—will be available to defendants, according to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).
“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 said.
Nearly 1,000 people have been charged with crimes related to the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol.
In the previous Congress, when Democrats controlled the House and the special committee on Jan. 6, the House did not give defendants access to the footage. The committee released some clips of what unfolded on Jan. 6, including during hearings.
Republicans flipped control of the lower chamber in the midterms and have made Jan. 6 a priority, although they have refused so far to release the footage to the public or grant access to outlets beyond Fox News. Carlson said recently he was given “unfettered access” to the video, and that his team is reviewing the trove.
Defendants had access to 14,000 hours of footage before, according to one filing this week.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters in Washington that defendants have had access before, but if it’s still needed, “We can supply that to them.”
Some outlets, including CNN, have received and released clips that were not previously made public.
“I know a lot of your networks has had tapes for two years,” McCarthy said. “I want to make sure we don’t play politics like that; that everyone is able to get it.”
McCarthy also said that he wanted to make the video available to the public “as soon as possible.”
“Have you ever had an exclusive? Because I see it on your networks all the time. So we have [given an] exclusive, then I’ll give it out to the entire country,” McCarthy said.
Democrats have claimed that granting access to the footage raises security concerns.
“We are deeply concerned that the release of footage related to the January 6 violent insurrection will reveal some security details that could create some challenges in terms of the safety and well being of everyone on the Capitol Complex,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said.
At least one defendant has asked a judge to delay his trial after the new developments.
“For the first time since the inception of this case, the full context of January 6th is receiving intensive public scrutiny as 41,000 hours of CCTV footage relevant to January 6th has been made available to the Defendant and members of the public,” Ryan Nichols, the defendant, said in a Feb. 27 motion to delay his trial.
Joseph McBride and Bradford Geyer, who are representing Nichols, have obtained permission to examine all of the closed-circuit security camera footage, according to the filing.
“Defendant’s position is simple and straightforward: there is no justifiable reason why this newly available evidence had not been made available before today—thus, any possible prejudice to the prosecution from a continuance is dwarfed by Defendant’s constitutional right to defend himself,” Nichols said.
McBride said on Twitter that former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) “hid this footage from us for 2 years while Americans were tried & convicted prior to a single juror ever hearing the truth.”
Sixty-six people have been found guilty by juries or judges. Only one has been fully acquitted, following a bench trial.
Hundreds of other defendants have pleaded guilty, and nearly 400 have been sentenced. Of those, more than half were sentenced to time in prison.
Nichols and his lawyers said that it was necessary to review each moment of the footage in order to ensure they don’t miss video crucial to his defense, such as footage of him “walking through a scene” or showing a law enforcement officer “doing something inconsistent with their expected testimony at trial.”
They asked the judge to remove a protective order limiting access to the footage so that review of it could be crowd-sourced.
The filing also said that the Republican panel on government weaponization has recently received 100 “abandoned boxes” of records from the Democrat-controlled Jan. 6 panel that went defunct at the end of the last Congress and that Nichols hopes to review the materials.
Nichols has been charged with, among other charges, unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon on Capitol grounds or building and an act of physical violence in the Capitol grounds or building. He has pleaded not guilty and the trial is currently slated to start on March 27.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.