McCarthy defends giving access to Tucker Carlson January 6

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is defending his decision to grant Fox News’ Tucker Carlson “exclusive” access to the Capitol security raid on Jan. 6, despite the conservative commentator’s own work raising false claims and conspiracy theories about a 2021 riot. the election of Joe Biden. .

McCarthy promised on Tuesday to make about 42,000 hours of sensitive Capitol Police security footage available to the general public “as soon as possible,” but made it clear that the Fox News commentator had first dibs. Republican McCarthy also supports giving access to some of the nearly 1,000 defendants being prosecuted for their roles in the siege.

Five people died in the attack on January 6, 2021 and its aftermath – President Donald Trump encouraged a crowd of supporters to “fight in hell” as Congress depends on the results of state elections.

“I don’t care what side of the issue you’re on. That’s why I think putting it all out there for the American public, you can see the truth. Look exactly what happened that day,” McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol.

“Have you ever had an exclusive? Because I see it on your networks all the time. So we have an exclusive, then I’ll take it out to the whole country,” McCarthy said.

The speaker’s decision to release the mountains of police security footage set off a firestorm at the Capitol about how the images could be used as a political tool to rewrite the history of what happened that fatal day. Fox News is facing new scrutiny in a separate court case for broadcasting false claims about the 2020 election that Trump lost to Biden.

He is also raising new concerns about sensitive security operations at the Capitol. Although video from the January 6 riot was already widely aired as part of the public hearings last summer by the House committee investigating the attack – including from the police cameras, documented as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s daughter filmed secret locations and even the riots themselves. — McCarthy is making available nearly 42,000 hours of footage, three times what was originally seen, from cameras located throughout the Capitol complex.

“We are very concerned that the release of footage related to the violent uprising on January 6th will reveal some security details that could pose some challenges for the safety and well-being of everyone on the Capitol Complex,” said Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, DN. .Y.

Representative Bennie Thompson, former chairman of the House committee, said on January 6 that the panel went through a rigorous process of working closely with the US Capitol Police to review and ultimately release approved portions of the surveillance footage as part of its hearings. public.

“I support a process, if this is true transparency, that would not compromise the integrity or security of the Capitol,” the Mississippi Democrat said.

When McCarthy told fellow Republicans behind closed doors about his decision Tuesday, he was met with applause, according to a person familiar with the private congressional meeting but not authorized to speak about it publicly.

The speaker had a rocky relationship with Carlson, who was critical of McCarthy’s leadership, but the influential Fox News commentator eventually stepped down as the California Republican battled to become House speaker in a drawn-out party vote earlier this year. . He was seen as helping to bring McCarthy to the job.

McCarthy insisted he was taking steps to ensure Capitol security wouldn’t be compromised by the release, but declined to provide specifics — except to say Carlson made it clear to the speaker’s staff that he wasn’t ask to show “exits” he used. legislators or others.

But the Republican leader has said he is working to set the record straight as he sees it, and has repeatedly complained that other media outlets, including CNN, have already obtained exclusive access to videos show last year, when the Democrats had the majority in the House.

McCarthy also suggested that it was unfair that the January 6 panel, which was discontinued when Republicans took control of the House, released a security video during the riot that former Vice President Mike Pence fled for safety as well like the GOP leader’s own team scrambling to theirs. office.

“It upset me that the January 6th committee would reveal the vice president’s exit strategy,” McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday. “What I thought would be better is if the whole world and the country could see what happened.”

Carlson has said his producers have been on Capitol Hill since early February, watching the footage after being given “unfettered access” by McCarthy.

The archive is searchable with the inner workings of the Capitol and includes the secret passages for lawmakers as well as the evacuation routes used by the Capitol Police to bring leadership and rank and file members to safety. It also includes long moments of empty halls when nothing is happening.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the release of the tapes to Carlson “reprehensible” and said he would not agree to release them to other media outlets. “Security has to be the number one concern,” Schumer said.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell would not comment directly on McCarthy’s move, saying his only concern is the security of the Capitol.


Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.

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