Capitol Police tell federal court January 6 materials are 'not public records'

The Capitol Police are arguing that the American public should have no access to materials pertaining to the January 6 Capitol breach.
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Capitol Police car.
Capitol Police car at U.S. Capitol April 28, 2021.
(Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

The U.S. Capitol Police force is attempting to shut down a watchdog lawsuit that attempted to gain public access to materials pertaining to the Jan. 6 Capitol breach by arguing such content is "not public records."

In February, watchdog group Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit under the common law right of access to pubic records, after being denied access to any records by the Capitol Police. In January, the group had requested from the force the following:

  • Email communications between the U.S. Capitol Police Executive Team and the Capitol Police Board concerning the security of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The timeframe of this request is from January 1, 2021 through January 10, 2021.
  • Email communications of the Capitol Police Board with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security concerning the security of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The timeframe of this request is from January 1, 2021 through January 10, 2021.
  • All video footage from within the Capitol between 12 mp and 9 pm on January 6, 2021.

In response, Capitol Police told the court that footage of the Capitol is "solely for national security and law enforcement purposes," and therefore access to it is limited and controlled by the Capitol Police. 

The force goes on to argue that even if the records are public, the interest of the Capitol Police in keeping the records confidential "outweigh any public interest in those materials," according to a release from Judicial Watch.

"Any other police department in America would be investigated and defunded for such abusive secrecy. The Pelosi Congress is in cover-up mode regarding January 6," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.