March 23, 2023

After days of pushback, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) finally broke his silence on the exclusive internal Jan. 6 footage access he gave to Fox News host Tucker Carlson — who spent months airing conspiracy theories about the legitimacy of the 2020 elections and the Capitol attack itself. 

Responding to staunch criticism from Democrats, McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday that none of the footage will be released to Carlson’s team or be broadcasted publicly before it is screened by Capitol police to make sure it doesn’t compromise the security of the Capitol building. 

“It’s many more hours of tape than we were ever told. They said at the beginning it was like 14,000 hours. There’s roughly almost 42,000 hours. We’re working through that. We work with the Capitol Police as well, so we’ll make sure security is taken care of,” McCarthy told reporters. 

Carlson has had what he described on his show as “unfettered” exclusive access to more than 40,000 hours of unreleased surveillance tape for days now. And McCarthy’s remarks Tuesday come only after he’s been backed into a corner by non-stop pushback from Democrats — who argue that allowing full access to an outside party like Carlson could create security risks for the Capitol and the people who work there.

In response to the criticism about possible security breaches, McCarthy emphasized that Carlson and his team are only interested in “certain parts” of the footage, saying that the team, for example, does not want to see “exit routes.”

“They’re not interested in it. They don’t want to show that,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy added that he expects the Jan. 6 security footage to be released “as soon as possible.” But he would not elaborate on the format of such a release. 

The California Republican also took the opportunity to try to turn the tables on Democrats, accusing the Jan. 6 committee of not taking the same precautions during their investigation last year.

“There’s times when the Capitol Police told me that they didn’t consult with them either on some of these routes, so that’s a concern,” McCarthy said.

He also dragged the panel for the footage they shared in public hearings, including showing then-Vice President Mike Pence leaving the Senate chamber after rioters breached the Capitol as well his own staff members being evacuated from his office wing.

“They went in and they showed our office … because they have a camera in our office. They never talked to any of us about it,” said McCarthy, who refused to cooperate with the Jan. 6 committee.

Jan. 6 committee leadership quickly shot down those accusations.

“What we showed to the public was video that we vetted through general counsel, we vetted through the chief of the Capitol Police,” Jan. 6 committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MI) told reporters in response, according to the Hill. “And under no circumstances did we push out anything that we felt that would have violated any aspect of the security of this area.” 

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