A key Republican lawmaker says Fox News host Tucker Carlson does not have unrestricted use of January 6 U.S. Capitol surveillance footage.
“It’s basically controlled access to be able to view tapes. Can’t record, can’t take anything with you,” Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), who chairs the House Administration Subcommittee on Oversight, said in response to a question from The Hill.
Carlson’s team “may request any particular clips they may need, then we’ll make sure there’s nothing sensitive, nothing classified, including escape routes,” Loudermilk told CBS News. “We don’t want al Qaeda to know certain things.”
Axios first reported last week that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) shared with Carlson 41,000 hours of surveillance footage from January 6, 2021, the day a crowd of people entered the U.S. Capitol, disrupting lawmakers who were meeting to certify President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. A Fox News spokesperson told The Daily Wire that the report from Axios was accurate.
On his show, “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Carlson said his team had been granted what they believe to be “unfettered” access to the tapes. Carlson said he planned to start sharing what his team found this week.
Tucker Carlson Announces That His Show Has Been Granted Access To 44k Hours Of Footage From January 6th
“We believe that access is unfettered. We believe we have secured the right to see whatever we want to see.”
“We’re going to spend the rest of this week taking a look at it,… https://t.co/sK7691S0n8 pic.twitter.com/GnPvtbENg5
— The Columbia Bugle 🇺🇸 (@ColumbiaBugle) February 21, 2023
A variety of media organizations followed suit by asking congressional leadership to give them access to the same footage.
Loudermilk reportedly offered assurance that other news outlets and the public would also get access, eventually. “Hopefully sooner rather than later, but I think we’re talking about weeks to months,” he said.
The congressman also told POLITICO that House Republicans intend to give January 6 defendants access to relevant documents and video “on a case-by-case basis, as requested by attorneys representing defendants.”
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McCarthy said last month he was looking to release the tapes because of the “politicization” he believed had been fostered by former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the January 6 Committee, which focused heavily on former President Donald Trump in its investigation and final report.
In brief remarks to The New York Times last week, McCarthy boiled down his decision to the fulfillment of a promise. “I was asked in the press about these tapes, and I said they do belong to the American public,” he said. “I think sunshine lets everybody make their own judgment.” In addition, McCarthy insisted to the newspaper that his team staff members were taking the matter “very seriously.”
Over the past week, Democrats issued myriad alarming statements about risks to Capitol security and the potential to fuel Russian propaganda.
In a letter to House Democrats, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said his team was “working to confirm the precise nature of the video transfer,” which he called a “reported breach,” and he stated there was “no indication” that McCarthy and Carlson followed the same protocols adopted by the January 6 Committee in handling the footage.
A Democratic member of the January 6 Committee, Maryland’s Rep. Jamie Raskin, questioned whether the release of the tapes could become a “roadmap” for a 2024 “insurrection.”
Some Republicans have cheered the move, including Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who had opposed McCarthy’s bid for speaker earlier this year. “Thank you [McCarthy] for following through on this!” she tweeted. “The public deserves to see everything that was hidden.”
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) insisted that any disclosure of the January 6 tapes is “obviously going to be scrutinized to make sure that you’re not exposing sensitive information.”