House GOP ignored Capitol Police requests to review public records since Jan. 6, lawyer says

The department generally does not want to appear at odds with House leaders, especially since it relies on the majority party for its budget and is charged with protecting its members.

Last month, Republicans began asking for the same footage that the Jan. 6 committee had access to. Those requests came first from Tim Monahan — who is a top aide to Chairman Kevin McCarthy and staff director of the House Administration Committee — and then from Rep. Brian Steele (R-Wis.), the chairman of that panel, who has jurisdiction over Capitol security.

Within days, DiBiase said, Capitol Police installed three terminals in a House office building to provide access to the footage. And DiBiase said he also turned over four hard drives he received from the Democratic-led panel on Jan. 6 after it finished its work.

“At no time was I or anyone else on the Capitol Police informed that anyone other than personnel from the [the House Administration Committee] I’m going to review the camera footage,” DiBiase pointed out.

Later last month, media reports indicated that McCarthy had provided access to the footage to Carlson’s producers. DiBiase said he later learned that “staff from Tucker Carlson’s show were allowed to watch whatever footage they wanted while he was being watched by staff from [the House Administration Committee] but that no footage was physically transmitted to the show.

A week later, Monaghan requested a list of Capitol Police cameras deemed “sensitive” because they included details of evacuation routes or locations such as Intelligence Committee facilities.

“We worked with the Capitol Police in advance to identify any sensitive footage from a security perspective and made sure it would not be released,” said Mark Bednar, McCarthy’s spokesman. “In subsequent conversations, USCP’s general counsel confirmed that the department had concluded that what was released had no security concerns.”

A GOP committee aide, asked about the statements in the affidavit, noted that Republicans had asked the Capitol Police for a list of sensitive security cameras “to ensure that everything on the list requested by Tucker was approved by the USCP, which we did.’

The aide added that the Capitol Police “told us they were not concerned about what was posted,” but did not immediately respond to follow-up questions about whether that comment came before or after the Fox footage aired and whether it applied to both clips. Capitol Police were also able to screen those it says are not.

DiBiase stressed that in “numerous conversations” over “several weeks,” he informed Monahan that the Capitol Police wanted to “review every clip, whether it’s on the sensitive list or not, if it’s going to be made public.” The special committee since Jan. 6 has gone through that process with the department “in all cases,” DiBiase said, as have federal prosecutors prosecuting hundreds of Capitol riot defendants.

“Of the numerous clips shown on the Tucker Carlson show on March 6 and 7, 2023, I was only shown one clip before it aired, and that clip was on the sensitive list,” he continued. “Because this clip was substantially similar to a clip used in the impeachment trial and was publicly available, I approved its use. The other approximately 40 clips that were not on the sensitive data list were never shown to me or anyone else in the Capitol Police.

DiBiase left unanswered some key details about his interactions with the House Administration Committee. For example, he did not indicate whether anyone on the panel agreed to his requests to preview the footage.

In particular, DiBiase pointed out that House managers of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial after the Jan. 6 attack, who used about 15 clips from Capitol security cameras, did not review them with the department in advance before using them in production in February 2021. These clips include “some of the sensitive list”. The footnote drew the attention of Republicans, who pointed to it Friday as an example of when Democrats have provided “zero consultation.”

Bednar also pointed to impeachment trial footage and said House Republicans have taken more steps to protect sensitive security materials than impeachment managers.

Capitol Police Chief Thomas Munger said in a statement earlier this month that he has little control over the footage once it is released to lawmakers.

Manger himself fiercely criticized Carlson and Fox News’ handling of the footage, saying it downplayed the violence and chaos of Jan. 6 and portrayed the actions of Capitol Police officers in a “misleading” and “offensive” light.

DiBiase’s statement came in the case of William Pope, a defendant from Jan. 6, who represented himself and moved to publicly release a set of security footage from Jan. 6. Several other defendants since Jan. 6 have cited Carlson’s access to the trove of footage in their own pending cases and said they intend to seek access. But DiBiase noted in the affidavit that while administration officials said last week that the footage had not been shown to any defendants or defense attorneys, Capitol Police had received additional requests to review the footage.

McCarthy’s decision to release the footage sparked weeks of questions among House Republicans. It’s also just the beginning of GOP lawmakers’ work to review the attack, with the Administration Committee currently reviewing the work of the previous select committee since Jan. 6 and vowing to investigate Capitol security decisions leading up to the day. Meanwhile, Republicans on the House Oversight Committee are planning a trip to visit those detained in connection with Jan. 6.

McCarthy defended his decision to release the footage to Carlson, who misrepresented the attack as non-violent. The speaker and members of the House Administration Committee promised to release the footage more widely.

“I think by putting everything out there to the American public, you can see the truth, you can see exactly what happened that day, and everybody can have exactly the same” access, McCarthy told reporters recently. “My intention is to release it to everyone.”

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