Mike Johnson claims that Republicans are altering Jan. 6 footage to shield rioters from the Department of Justice

Mike Johnson claims that Republicans are altering Jan. 6 footage to shield rioters from the Department of Justice.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) stated on Tuesday that Republicans are intentionally blurring faces in security footage from inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The purpose is to safeguard participants from potential retaliation and charges by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Johnson made this disclosure during a news conference, emphasizing the party’s concern for the individuals involved in the events of that day.

The Department of Justice has had access to the video footage for an extended period, and it has played a role in around 1,200 criminal charges against those involved in the Capitol riot. During the riot, hundreds of individuals forcibly entered the Capitol, pushing past police and violently attacking Congress.

Mike Johnson’s statements express a notable level of sympathy for supporters of then-President Donald Trump. These supporters, without authorization, broke into a restricted federal building and engaged in violent actions against Congress. This occurred while Congress was in session to certify the Electoral College results before Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Even though the prosecution already has the footage, concealing faces might discourage potential tipsters from providing leads to the FBI. Online investigators have previously aided the government in identifying individuals by employing facial recognition software and social media.

A representative of Johnson stated in a subsequent statement on Tuesday that blurring faces aims to “prevent all forms of retaliation against private citizens from any non-governmental actors.”

In October, shortly after becoming the House Speaker, Johnson pledged to the far-right wing of the House GOP conference that Republicans would release thousands of hours of security camera footage. Currently, reporters and criminal defendants can access the footage upon request.

Initially, Johnson stated that making the video public would allow people to see what really happened on that day without having to rely solely on the interpretation of a small group of government officials. This suggestion seemed to downplay the fact that Trump supporters had indeed stormed the building in an attempt to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election.

Conspiracy theorists and a few Republican lawmakers have used video clips to support their claims that the Justice Department was behind the violence. Some members suggested that the footage showed a Trump supporter waving a badge at Capitol Police officers, but it was later revealed to be a vaping device.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who declared on the House floor the day of the incident that leftists in disguise were the real culprits, led the effort to release the video.

While Johnson stated on Tuesday that Republicans “trust the American people to draw their own conclusions” about January 6, it seems that they find it inappropriate for the public to try identifying suspects based on the decision to blur faces.

The chair of the subcommittee overseeing the video’s release, Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), believes that the identity of those who entered the Capitol after the rioters had already breached windows and doors should be protected. Loudermilk expressed concern about individuals being pursued simply for being present when doors were open, with Capitol Police seemingly allowing people to enter.

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