House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told Breitbart News on Wednesday that he intends to fully release to the public the tens of thousands of hours of U.S. Capitol surveillance footage from January 6, 2021.
McCarthy’s comments came during a wide-ranging hourlong on-camera interview in the ceremonial U.S. House speaker’s office in his first sit-down interview since Fox News host Tucker Carlson aired on his program some never-before-seen clips of such surveillance footage earlier this week.
“Yeah,” McCarthy said when asked if the tapes will be fully released to the public.
“We just want to make sure we go through them all, and it takes time,” he continued. “The first thing that Tucker said too, he didn’t want to show any exits to cause any problems. We asked the Capitol Police, ‘Were there any concerns?’ They came back with one, and we mitigated that, but it was interesting, that one that they had a problem with, Eric Swalwell had had up on the internet for the last two years showing that part.”
McCarthy’s interview was taped as part of the latest On The Hill video special from Breitbart News, a long-form series of in-depth interviews and specials. He previously sat for one taped in late 2021 and released in January 2022 that laid the foundation for the House Republicans’ midterm message. McCarthy, in that special, first detailed the House GOP agenda the “Commitment to America” and made several major promises including that he would remove Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA) from the House Intelligence Committee and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee if elected speaker. More than a year later, within days of getting elected speaker, McCarthy delivered on those promises and kicked Swalwell, Schiff, and Omar off those committees.
This latest special focuses on several major issues facing the country, including the threats of the Chinese Communist Party, the border crisis, and the debt ceiling. More from the interview will be released in the coming days and weeks. McCarthy’s comments about the January 6 surveillance are particularly newsworthy and timely as this was the most in-depth yet he has gone in explaining his rationale for releasing them, and responding to attacks from the media and people like Democrat Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for doing so.
The footage Carlson aired undercut some narratives that the last Congress’s January 6 select committee put forward, and those of many in establishment media. For instance, Carlson showed tapes of January 6 protesters inside the Capitol lining up and taking pictures inside—Carlson called them “sightseers” rather than “insurrectionists.” What’s more, another video Carlson aired shows Capitol Police officers walking around inside the Capitol for several minutes with the now-infamous “QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley and even trying to help him open locked doors. McCarthy, when he became speaker of the House just about two months ago, provided Carlson with access to several of these tapes in the interest of transparency. But McCarthy told Breitbart News that Carlson just got the first bite at the apple and that these videos will be released more broadly in the coming weeks as sensitive security information is removed.
“Well this is all about transparency,” McCarthy said when asked why he released the tapes. “It won’t just be to Tucker. Like any news organization, different people get exclusives. We watched during the January 6, CNN would have exclusives all the time and nobody complained. CNN actually got to be in Statuary Hall for a whole hour for their own show. You’ve watched that January 6 would release only certain tapes. I think it’s better for transparency that anyone can make their own decision up, and as we walk through these, these are many more hours of tapes than the January 6 committee told us. It’s not 14,000. It’s 42,000 hours. We want to make sure for security purposes our certain exits aren’t shown and others. But you know the most interesting thing, when I had the team talk to the Capitol Police about making sure they had no problems with the exit and so on, they said January 6 never asked them that. They showed the exit of the vice president. They showed the exit from my office. They literally had then Speaker Pelosi’s daughter showing the secure location that they take the leadership. That’s not supposed to be known to anybody, and CNN reported it, and I don’t remember the press ever getting upset with that. So what we want to do is make sure we have this out that everybody can see it.”
Carlson made a compelling case in several instances, including the inaccurate claims from the January 6 committee that Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) somehow led a tour of January 6 rioters inside the Capitol the day before so they could conduct reconnaissance, that members of the January 6 committee lied to the public in their findings. Interestingly, however, the chairman of the now-defunct January 6 committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), made a stunning admission to reporters this week where he said members of the committee, including himself, never had access to the surveillance footage—only staff did. Asked if he thinks the tapes show that the January 6 committee lied to the public, McCarthy said he has not yet personally seen all the tapes so he is not ready to draw conclusions.
He did, however, bash the January 6 committee for partisanship—now-former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) engaged in an unprecedented action when she refused to allow Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Jim Banks (R-IN) to be seated on the committee—and he defended Loudermilk from the false accusations he has faced. McCarthy said ultimately though he hopes the public reviews the tapes and comes to their own conclusions.
“I haven’t been able to see all the tapes yet, but the one thing I did know, there were certain things that the January 6 committee did that I knew was purely political,” McCarthy said. “First, not letting Republicans on the committee. Secondly, they made accusations that we knew were not true. They said one Republican congressman gave a tour. Well the tapes show he did not give a tour, but you know what, one of the Democrats on the January 6 committee did give a tour in the Capitol the day before. We watched different accusations they made. That’s why I think transparency answers all that. That’s not my job to sit back and say whether they were right or wrong, but my job is to be transparent and people can make their own conclusion.”
McCarthy said he is unsure if the tapes will affect any trials or convictions of January 6 defendants, but argued that any of them should be able to use any of the tapes in their defense.
“I’m not sure but anybody’s that’s been held for trial, they should be able to have the ability to see the tapes,” McCarthy said. “They should be able to use the tapes. I don’t know if he [Chansley] was able to use the tapes during then, but I also believe in America you need equal justice. I watched what transpired in America, the burning of courthouses. Look, I don’t condone anything that happened on January 6. I don’t like what happened on January 6, but I watched the courthouses get burned in Seattle. I watched them attack federal employees. I watched what happened here, and no one getting arrested, no one being held up to justice. I think in America you want equal justice, and that’s what’s concerning to me.”
McCarthy also said he is unsure if anything in the tapes could lead to convictions being overturned, or to eventual pardons from a president down the road.
“I have not been able— there’s 48,000 [hours of] tapes,” McCarthy said. “I haven’t gone through them so I don’t know, but I’d leave that up to the justice system. But the one thing I will say is, to be fair, in equal justice, if there’s any person that’s accused they should be able to have a right to see the tapes to make their own defense.”
Asked if he intends to, with these revelations coming to light and more, investigate the investigators so to speak—people like now former Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL)—McCarthy noted they are no longer in Congress. As for Thompson, who was chair of the now shut-down committee, McCarthy said that his predecessor Pelosi’s decision to appoint him chair was suspect given his objections to previous elections of GOP presidents like in 2004 when he formally objected to the certification of then-President George W. Bush’s reelection.
“You know Adam and Liz are no longer here. What’s interesting is that Pelosi would even appoint Thompson for this committee,” McCarthy said. “You remember, he objected to the presidential election. The one thing that Bennie said at the very beginning is Nancy Pelosi is off limits and the Sergeant of Arms, so we can’t know about those emails or texts or those conversations. I’ve really taken the approach that the Capitol Police weren’t protected that day, that they weren’t given the information ahead of time. Should you have had National Guard here? What information did you have? I was never told of any threats beforehand, and you would not ever want to have that security problem happen again, so you want to look at it from a security point of view too. Why did it happen and how do you make sure that never happens again? To me it’s quite interesting that the January 6 never laid that out.”
McCarthy also ripped Schumer, the Democrat leader in the Senate, for calling for censorship in response to McCarthy’s transparency play. On Tuesday, after Carlson revealed some of these tapes on Monday night, Schumer called for Fox News and Rupert Murdoch to censor Carlson.
“I urge Fox News to order Carlson to cease propagating the big lie on his network and to level with their viewers about the truth, the truth, behind the efforts to mislead the public. Conduct like theirs is just asking for another January 6 to happen,” Schumer said on the Senate floor, adding in comments to reporters that he believes Murdoch has a “special obligation” to censor Carlson:
Schumer: “Rupert Murdoch has a special obligation to stop Tucker Carlson from going on tonight [and] from letting him go on again and again and again [because] our democracy depends on it.” pic.twitter.com/uld6eaCl3C
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) March 7, 2023
McCarthy, in response to Schumer, bashed the Democrats for trying to engage in censorship.
“I wish Chuck Schumer would read the Constitution,” McCarthy told Breitbart News. “The Democrats always go to censorship. You watched what they did with the laptop. You watched what they did with Twitter. They want to use government as much as they can to censor what people can see and what people can know. This is the difference between us. I believe in the Constitution. I trust the American people, and you should just have the ability to have all the information and let people make their own judgement.”