Newly released Jan. 6 tapes raise questions as Supreme Court prepares to hear riot cases

House Speaker Mike Johnson said he plans on releasing 44,000 hours of Jan. 6 footage to the general public.

Published: November 19, 2023 11:20pm

Newly released footage from the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot is raising new questions about the events that transpired and the subsequent criminal charges as the U.S. Supreme Court is set to decide whether to hear the first two Jan. 6 appeals. 

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Friday that he plans to release 44,000 hours of Jan. 6 footage to the general public. The first batch containing about 90 hours of footage was released that day, and the remaining 44,000 hours are expected to be released over the next several months. Additionally, starting Monday, the House Administration Oversight Subcommittee will allow any U.S. citizen to review U.S. Capitol Police video footage from Jan. 6 by scheduling an appointment to view the videos in person. 

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court scheduled conferences for Dec. 1 to discuss whether to accept two appeals, one of which involves an off-duty federal agent who carried his service pistol and credentials onto the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, 2021, and the other which involves the Justice Department's use of an evidence-tampering law in Capitol riot cases.

The first case involving Edward Lang challenges the charge of obstruction of an official proceeding under an evidence-tampering law, which more than 300 other defendants have faced. Lang's attorneys argued that the charge could be brought against anyone attending a "public demonstration gone awry."

The second case involving Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Mark Sami Ibrahim focuses on whether he has legislated immunity as a federal law enforcement official who was charged with four counts related to Jan. 6, two of which are related to how he carried his firearm on Jan. 6 in the Capitol.

With the pending release of almost all Jan. 6 footage, members of Congress are raising new questions about the events that transpired on that date. 

For example, House Administration Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., told "Just the News, No Noise" last week that there were "so many anomalies" that occurred that day, ranging from the fact that no suspect or suspects have been named in the pipe bombs left outside of the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee headquarters buildings on Jan. 5, 2021, to the fact that no one has been identified in the building of the gallows that were present during the Jan. 6 "Stop the Steal" rally.

Ed Martin, who organized the Stop the Steal protest that occurred before the riot, said he found evidence indicating that the people who built the gallows came in a taxi and went to a coffee shop, per Loudermilk.

"My question to the FBI would be did you look for closed circuit television from the coffee shop? Have you contacted the cab company?" Loudermilk said

The congressman also noted how the gallows were built at 6 a.m. on Jan. 6, and he asked: "How is it that Park Police, Capitol Police FBI – someone – Metropolitan Police, did not go and take this thing down earlier in the day? As you know, the riots and the larger protests didn't start until early in the afternoon. So how was it that this thing was allowed to stay up this long?"

Additionally, it is normal for plainclothes officers to be stationed in crowds during rallies, and Loudermilk said he has not seen evidence that any officers in the crowd on Jan. 6 tried to stop the protest from turning into a riot. 

For example, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, raised questions on X, formerly Twitter, Saturday after a new video appeared to show a protester flashing a law enforcement badge in the Capitol. Lee said that he will ask FBI Director Christopher Wray about the issue at his next Oversight Committee hearing. However, other X users identified the person Lee mentioned as Chicago man Kevin James Lyons, and said he was displaying a vape, not a badge.

The new footage also appears to support Jan. 6 defendant Victoria White, who claimed in a federal lawsuit against the Washington, D.C., police department that officers assaulted her and used excessive force when allegedly beating her in a tunnel at the entry of the Capitol on the day of the riot. She pleaded guilty earlier this year to one felony charge related to Jan. 6. 

Furthermore, a new Jan. 6 video shows a bystander begging police to stop beating White. The status of her lawsuit is unclear, and it is unclear whether she already viewed the newly released video as typical during discovery, the process where plaintiffs and defendants exchange evidence before trial.

Some Republican members of Congress say that releases of the new footage will lead to bombshell developments in the chamber. 

"Prepare to be shocked. This release will reveal the insidious truth that the left and the corrupt officials at FBI/DOJ do NOT want Americans to see," Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., wrote on X last week about the release. "No less than 5-10 key Democrats will announce they’re retiring from Congress. Don’t doubt me."

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., said Sunday that releasing the Jan. 6 tapes is "not enough" and she demanded for Johnson to create a January 6th Select Committee. 

"There needs to be investigations and ACCOUNTABILITY for ALL of the lies, deceit, and lives ruined. Every member of the Jan 6th committee, Nancy Pelosi, FBI, DOJ, DC Police, Cap Police, Jan 6 witnesses who lied, all need to be subpoenaed," she wrote, referring to the Democrat-led Jan. 6 committee that dissolved when Republicans took control of the House after the 2022 midterms. "Criminal referrals must be written and prosecutions MUST happen under a Trump DOJ."

Amid Republican hopes that the release of additional videos may lead to some additional questions being answered, Florida Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson remained confident that the release of Jan. 6 footage will show the full extent of the violence that day, writing on X last week that "all these extra hours of footage will show that January 6th was an insurrection."

Regardless of what happens as a result of the newly released tapes or the Supreme Court decisions, the damage is far beyond repair for multiple Jan. 6 defendants. 

At least four defendants, Matthew Perna, Jord Meacham, Chris Stanton and Mark Aungst, all committed suicide after they were charged. 

Notably, newly released footage reportedly shows Perna calmly walking through the Capitol alongside other demonstrators and even police officers, per The Post Millennial

Follow Madeleine Hubbard on X or Instagram.

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