- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 18, 2023

Republican lawmakers are calling for investigations into a House committee and its members after the release of security footage that captured the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Rep. Troy Nehls of Texas and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah called for the investigation of the now-defunct United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, which determined that the riot was an attempted coup by then-President Trump. They said the tapes present a much different view of the chaos at the Capitol that day.

“The J6 committee was a sham,” Mr. Nehls said on X. “I knew it then. Everyone knows it now. Let’s investigate the investigators.”

The calls for an investigation of the Democratic-led committee began after House Speaker Mike Johnson announced the planned release of more than 40,000 hours of security video footage from the Capitol that day. The footage will be released in batches over the next several months.

The first round of about 90 hours of footage was released Friday on the website of the House Administration Committee, which reviewed the tapes and authorized their release.

“This decision will provide millions of Americans, criminal defendants, public interest organizations, and the media an ability to see for themselves what happened that day, rather than having to rely upon the interpretation of a small group of government officials,” said Mr. Johnson, Louisiana Republican.

Mr. Trump used social media to laud the speaker’s “courage and fortitude” in making the security video public. He said the tapes “will explicitly reveal what really happened on January 6th.”

Mr. Lee accused two of the committee’s prominent members, former Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a Republican, and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, a Democrat, of deliberately hiding the security footage.

“Why didn’t Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger ever refer to any of these tapes? Maybe they never looked for them,” Mr. Lee said. “Maybe they never even questioned their own narrative. Maybe they were just too busy selectively leaking the text messages of Republicans they wanted to defeat.

“Given the evidence they apparently suppressed, how much footage (and how many other records) do you think Nancy Pelosi and the J6 committee deliberately lost or destroyed?”

Mr. Kinzinger, now a commentator on CNN, mocked the fanfare for releasing the video.

“Oh ya? What did ya find? Please elaborate with details because you sound very sure,” he said.

Not all of the tapes will be made public. About 5% of the footage will be withheld because it may “involve sensitive security information related to the building architecture,” Mr. Johnson said.

Rep. Barry Loudermilk, Georgia Republican and chairman of the Administration Committee oversight subcommittee that reviewed the tapes, said the goal was to “provide the American people with transparency.”

“As I’ve said all along — the American people deserve transparency, accountability, and real answers supported by facts instead of a predetermined political narrative,” he said.

Rep. Joseph Morelle of New York, the top Democrat on the Administration Committee, condemned the decision to give the public “unfettered access” to security footage.

“While the name on the door to the Speaker’s suite has changed, the office’s mission to undermine the Capitol Police and politicize Capitol security continues unabated. It is unconscionable that one of Speaker Johnson’s first official acts as steward of the institution is to endanger his colleagues, staff, visitors, and our country by allowing virtually unfettered access to sensitive Capitol security footage. That he is doing so over the strenuous objections of the security professionals within the Capitol Police is outrageous,” Mr. Morelle said.

“I will continue to trust the judgment of the security professionals who risk their lives to keep us all safe. They have our backs, it’s disappointing that the new Speaker and our Republican colleagues do not have theirs,” he said.

The Justice Department charged almost 1,200 people with federal crimes in the aftermath of the riot at the U.S. Capitol. More than 800 have pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial, and about 700 involved in the chaos have been sentenced. About two-thirds have received sentences ranging from three days to 22 years.

One of the people who received jail time for involvement in the riot, Jacob Chansley, is now eying a run for the seat of retiring Rep. Debbie Lesko, Arizona Republican.

Mr. Chansley, also known as the QAnon Shaman, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of obstructing an official proceeding. He was sentenced to 41 months in prison and was sent to a halfway house after serving 27 months.

Kerry Picket contributed to this report.

• Alex Miller can be reached at amiller@washingtontimes.com.

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