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Kevin McCarthy grants access to Capitol security footage to Jan. 6 defendants



House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s office said on Tuesday that attorneys for defendants indicted in the January 6, 2021, uprising will have access to security footage from the U.S. Capitol, as the House Republican’s top leader made the under scrutiny for allowing Fox News host Tucker Carlson to view the video. before distributing it widely.

The House Administration Oversight Subcommittee “makes arrangements to schedule the time of any attorney representing an accused,” McCarthy’s spokesman Mark Bednar told CNN.

Republicans defended the move as a way to ensure due process for defendants.

“Anyone charged with a crime in this country deserves due process, which includes access to evidence that can be used to prove guilt or innocence. We intend to make all relevant videos and documents available on a case-by-case basis, upon request by attorneys representing the defendants,” Rep. Barry Loudermilk, chair of the subcommittee, said in a statement.

The access of defendants accused in the attack on the Capitol on January 6 has already been raised in court. Joseph McBride, attorney for several Capitol riot defendants, told CNN on Tuesday that McCarthy’s office granted him access to 41,000 hours of Capitol security footage from that day, and he filed a motion in court to request a postponement of the trial of a defendant.

“For the first time since this case began, the full background to January 6 is under intense public scrutiny, as 41,000 hours of CCTV footage relevant to January 6 has been made available to the public. ‘accused and members of the public,’ McBride wrote in a recent filing asking to delay the upcoming trial of his client Ryan Nichols.

McBride’s disclosure comes amid a public debate over which footage from inside the US Capitol should be made public. The public release of the video was one of many concessions McCarthy made in his bid to become Speaker of the House earlier this year, and the California Republican gave Carlson exclusive access to all security footage from the US Capitol from January 6 last week. CNN also requested access to the footage.

On Tuesday, McCarthy claimed that the Jan. 6 defendants were able to access security footage of the attack before he was president and when former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was leading the chamber.

“The defendants had this opportunity to come and view the footage,” he said.

Pelosi’s spokesperson Aaron Bennett said the California Democrat never personally granted any defendants access to these images “because Speaker Pelosi lacked that authority and believes she appropriately belongs. security officials”.

McCarthy defended his decision to release the security footage to Carlson and said there was nothing unusual about sending exclusives to the media. He gave no timeline for releasing the images wider or for Carlson to release them.

In an exchange with CNN, McCarthy also did not directly address concerns about the footage being passed on to Carlson, who has raised conspiracy theories about the attack.

He added that he had not consulted with Senate GOP Leader McConnell about the release.

Defense attorneys have long had access to an extensive government database of videos of the riot, which is protected by court order. As part of that discovery process, federal prosecutors tried to keep some CCTV clips from the Capitol complex hidden from the public, saying in court that their release would pose a national security risk and could provide vital insight into the wrongdoings. actors who might plan a future attack.

While the involvement of the House of Representatives in criminal cases is unusual, defendants have a constitutional right to access any evidence the government has that might help their case. McBride, who represents several of the Jan. 6 defendants, said the defendants “have a right to look at and examine everything” related to their case.

McBride wrote in the filing that “41,000 hours is more than double the amount of CCTV footage previously thought.” In an interview with CNN, McBride said “access is readily available to defense attorneys who request it” from McCarthy’s office. He added that lawyers would have access to footage from the Capitol.

It is unclear how access to these security images might affect January 6 cases in the future. Many defense attorneys have argued that the sheer amount of discovery already available has hampered their ability to prepare for trial. Judges are yet to rule on the new security footage and whether it will delay upcoming trials.

Nichols has been charged with multiple counts for his alleged actions on Jan. 6, including an act of physical violence and assaulting, resisting or obstructing certain officers using a dangerous weapon. He pleaded not guilty.

In 2021, the chief justice of the DC federal court ruled that news organizations could request the public release of the videos after they were shown in open court, because the public has a vested interest in seeing security footage of the attack. The decision, which came after more than a dozen outlets including CNN were sued for access, resulted in hundreds of videos being released publicly.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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