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House Speaker Johnson wants to blur January 6 footage to protect Capitol rioters

Dec 5, 2023, 4:04 PM

FILE - Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., speaks during a news conference at the Capitol in ...

FILE - Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., speaks during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Nov. 2, 2023. The last time Congress tried to fund the government to prevent a federal shutdown, it cost House Speaker Kevin McCarthy his job. This time, Johnson appears on track for a better outcome. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(CNN) —House Speaker Mike Johnson said Tuesday that before publicly releasing footage of the US Capitol attack on January 6, 2021, the faces of the mob will be blurred to protect them from the Justice Department.

The Louisiana Republican said during a news conference that he wants to make sure rioters don’t get prosecuted.

“We’re going through a methodical process of releasing them as quickly as we can,” Johnson said. “As you know, we have to blur some of the faces of persons who participated in events of that day because we don’t want them to be retaliated against and to be charged by the DOJ and to have other, you know, concerns and problems.”

He added: “So that’s a slow process to get it done.”

Federal investigators and prosecutors already have footage from the Capitol’s security cameras and have used it to charge and prosecute members of the mob that day.

But online sleuths and individuals from the public have previously helped to identify many people from images taken during the riot, and blurring the faces of people at the Capitol that day could hamper the potential for additional public tips.

In a statement posted online, Raj Shah, a spokesperson for Johnson, emphasized the speaker wants to blur faces “to prevent all forms of retaliation” from “non-governmental actors.”

“Faces are to be blurred from public viewing room footage to prevent all forms of retaliation against private citizens from any non-governmental actors. The Department of Justice already has access to raw footage from January 6, 2021,” Shah wrote.

According to the latest update from the Justice Department, 683 people have pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from their actions on January 6, and 127 individuals have been found guilty through trials in DC’s district court.

The Justice Department has previously asked the public’s help in identifying over 300 more individuals at the Capitol that day, and the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Washington, DC police, continue to offer a half-a-million dollar reward for information leading to the arrest of the individual who planted pipe bombs on January 5, 2021, near the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee.

In mid-November, Johnson announced that he planned to release the Capitol Hill security footage that does not contain sensitive information but did not mention blurring out faces.

“When I ran for speaker, I promised to make accessible to the American people the 44,000 hours of video from Capitol Hill security taken on January 6, 2021,” Johnson said in a statement at the time, adding that there would be a public viewing room to “ensure that every citizen can view every minute of the videos uncensored.”


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House Speaker Johnson wants to blur January 6 footage to protect Capitol rioters