Anatomy of a Cover-up: The January 6 Tapes

Tucker Carlson now has the equivalent of nearly five years of surveillance footage captured by U.S. Capitol Police security cameras on January 6, 2021. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) turned over the tapes to the Fox News host  earlier this month, according to Axios. Carlson’s producers and researchers are already distilling the footage; the first round of clips is expected to air in a few weeks.

While some grumble that McCarthy did not fulfill his promise to publicly release the footage—arguably a valid complaint—Carlson’s team undoubtedly will give the massive trove much-needed context and maximum impact. Carlson released a three-part documentary, “Patriot Purge,” in November 2021 that explained how the events of January 6 helped launch a second “war on terror” against American citizens out of step with the Biden regime.

Since early 2021, Carlson has used his nightly show to expose the cruel treatment of Trump supporters suffering pretrial detention orders; raised questions about the use of undercover assets including FBI informants and the mysterious role of Ray Epps; asked why the case of the January 5 “pipe bomber” remains unsolved; and demanded the release of the surveillance video as late as last month.

Releasing the video never should have been a political fight; after all, the footage was recorded on a taxpayer-paid closed circuit television system installed on public property to monitor public employees. Contrary to arguments by Capitol Police and the Justice Department, the video belongs to the public, not federal agencies.

But both entities, with the help of D.C. District Court judges, have successfully kept the trove largely under wraps for more than two years. Even the FBI and D.C. Metropolitan Police departments signed agreements a few days after the Capitol protest to acknowledge that the tapes technically belonged to Capitol Police.

In a sworn statement filed in March 2021, Thomas DiBiase, general counsel for the Capitol Police, insisted the footage constituted “security information” that required very limited access. “Our concern is that providing unfettered access to hours of extremely sensitive information to defendants who already have shown a desire to interfere with the democratic process will . . . [be] passed on to those who might wish to attack the Capitol again,” DiBiase warned.

The Justice Department subsequently designated the tapes as “highly sensitive” government material subject to protective orders in January 6 prosecutions. It’s been a major battle for defendants and their attorneys to properly access all of the video tied to their cases; defendants cannot watch any clips without the presence of a legal authority and none of the footage can be shared or downloaded.

Of course, there have been some exceptions. Capitol Police shared cherry-picked clips with the House Democrats on the second impeachment committee as well as the January 6 select committee. For example, the brief clip of Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) running through a hallway that afternoon presumably after the breach was produced from surveillance video. HBO also accessed surveillance footage for its slanted documentary on January 6. “Security” concerns, my foot.

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