House speaker Mike Johnson said Friday he plans to publicly release thousands of hours of footage from the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, making good on a promise he made to far-right members of his party when he was campaigning for his current job.
“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, rather than having to rely upon the interpretation of a small group of government officials,” Johnson said in a statement.
The newly elected speaker said the first tranche of security footage, around 90 hours, will be released on a public committee website Friday, with the rest of the 44,000 hours expected to be posted over the next several months. In the meantime, a public viewing room will be set up in the Capitol.
For the last several months, the GOP-led House Administration Committee has made the video available by appointment only to members of the media, criminal defendants and a limited number of other people. The video shows some of the fighting up close and gives a bird’s-eye view of the Capitol complex – one that visitors rarely see – as hundreds of president Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the building, violently attacking police officers and breaking in through windows and doors.
By expanding this access to the general public, Johnson is fulfilling one of the pledges he made last month to the most conservative members of his party, including the representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, who orchestrated the ouster of the former speaker, Kevin McCarthy. B