A key Republican lawmaker said Fox News’ Tucker Carlson doesn’t have unrestricted access to tens of thousands of hours of Jan. 6 Capitol footage, said a Republican lawmaker, coming after it was confirmed the House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) handed the footage to him.
“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.), the chairman of the House Administration Subcommittee on Oversight, told The Hill Tuesday, adding that his panel is working with the House sergeant-at-arms and Capitol Police. “Then they will request any particular clips that—that they may need, and then we’ll make sure that there’s nothing sensitive, nothing classified—you know, escape routes.”
Elaborating, Loudermilk told CBS News that Carlson’s staff “may request any particular clips they may need, then we’ll make sure there’s nothing sensitive, nothing classified, including escape routes … we don’t want al Qaeda to know certain things.”
While both McCarthy and Carlson have confirmed the move, few details about the agreement were provided. Other mainstream outlets have asked McCarthy to provide them with the footage.
Loudermilk said that those news outlets and he public would ultimately get access to the tapes. “Hopefully sooner rather than later, but I think we’re talking about weeks to months,” he told CBS.
A group of outlets—Advance Publications, ABC News, Axios, CBS News, CNN, Scripps, Gannett, the Los Angeles Times, Politico, and ProPublica—wrote a letter to McCarthy and other congressional leaders to grant access to the footage.
“Without full public access to the complete historical record, there is concern that an ideologically-based narrative of an already polarizing event will take hold in the public consciousness, with destabilizing risks to the legitimacy of Congress, the Capitol Police, and the various federal investigations and prosecutions of January 6 crimes,” attorney Charles Tobin wrote on behalf the media outlets last week.
During an interview with with the New York Times earlier this month, McCarthy said he was releasing the footage to Carlson by saying: “I promised.” Like Loudermilk, McCarthy said that the footage would be made more widely available at a later date, although it’s unclear when.
“I was asked in the press about these tapes, and I said they do belong to the American public. I think sunshine lets everybody make their own judgment,” the California Republican told the NY Times.
As for Carlson, he said on his popular Fox News show that he would make some of his findings public this week. “We believe we have secured the right to see whatever we want to see,” Carlson also said during a broadcast of his show last week, adding that producers are combing through the footage to see how it contradicts, or not, the story that we’ve been told for more than two years.”
“We think already that in some ways it does contradict that story,” Carlson said.
Democrats Lash Out
But Democrats say that the decision represents a national security risk. Among them, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote that it would “embolden” people who question the official results of the 2020 election.
Separately, Schumer claimed McCarthy “does not have the right to jeopardize the safety of the senators nor Senate and Capitol staff for their own political purposes” by releasing the tapes, according to a “Dear Colleague” letter sent this month.
“The apparent transfer of video footage represents an egregious security breach that endangers the hardworking women and men of the United States Capitol Police,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said last week in a similar letter to fellow House Democrats.
Responding to their complaints, McCarthy has said the public has the right see what happened on Jan. 6. He also criticized Democrats for what he described as a partisan witch hunt by targeting former President Donald Trump, his family, and former administration officials via its Jan. 6 select committee.