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Allies of former President Donald Trump are upset with House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and have accused him of dishonesty after he failed to release additional footage from the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol Building, as promised.
In November, shortly after taking over as Speaker, Johnson pledged to release nearly all video footage from that day that did not compromise Capitol security or contain information that could lead to retaliation against private citizens.
“When I ran for Speaker, I promised to make accessible to the American people the 44,000 hours of video from Capitol Hill security taken on January 6, 2021,” Johnson noted in a statement on November 17, as Newsweek reports. “Truth and transparency are critical. We will begin immediately posting video on a public website and move as quickly as possible to add to the website nearly all of the footage in more than 40,000 hours.”
Initially, 90 hours of footage were released the same day by the House Committee on House Administration, but two months later, no additional footage was released.
Raj Shah, deputy chief of staff for communications for Johnson, told Newsweek in a previous statement: “Faces are to be blurred from public viewing room footage to prevent all forms of retaliation against private citizens from any non-governmental actors. The Department of Justice already has access to raw footage from January 6, 2021.”
However, Newsweek noted that some people close to the former president are growing impatient with the lack of progress in releasing the video footage.
In an interview with the outlet, far-right activist Laura Loomer said the failure to release more footage is a form of “gaslighting.”
“Out of anybody on the right, I’ve been the biggest critic of Mike Johnson since day one,” she told the outlet. “The Republican Party is incompetent. Mike Johnson is using the tapes as gaslighting to manipulate the base to make them think they’re going to do something (about January 6).”
She added: “You mean to tell me we can run surveillance on every American but can’t come up with a government database that will have an open source and web hosting location for 44,000 hours of footage? It’s BS.”
Loomer referred to the recent passage of the annual defense funding bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act that may allow the FBI to continue to “spy” on Americans, Newsweek said.
Loomer took to the X platform over the weekend to call Johnson a “liar.”
She also quoted Johnson, who said, “Today, I am keeping my promise to the American people and making all the January 6th tapes available to ALL Americans.” She then responded: “(Johnson), we still don’t have the J6 tapes. You lied to the American people. Don’t make promises you have no intention of keeping.”
Jeff Clark, a former member of Trump’s administration and a co-defendant in alleged election interference charges filed in Fulton County, Ga., took to the platform as well to complain about the lack of footage being released.
“On this, the third anniversary, of January 6, it would mean a great deal to the American people if (Johnson) made good on his promise and released all of the footage from the Capitol that day,” he wrote. “We need radical transparency. It’s been long enough.”
When Newsweek contacted Johnson’s office via email on Sunday, they pointed the publication to the Speaker’s Nov. 17 statement.
“As the Speaker said, the House Administration Committee will release all footage except that which exposes sensitive personal information,” Taylor Haulsee, a spokesperson for Johnson’s office, said.
Newsweek noted further:
More than 1,230 people have been charged with federal crimes in the riot, ranging from misdemeanors to felonies. According to the Associated Press on Friday, about 730 people have entered pleas of guilty and about 170 have received convictions for at least one charge following a judge or jury trial.
Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, was indicted on four counts by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in August 2023 for his role in allegedly working to overturn the results of the 2020 election in the run-up to the riot.
A date for that trial has been set for March 4.