A crowd of pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is warning against the release of security footage from during the Capitol attack to Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Samuel Corum/Getty Images hide caption
Samuel Corum/Getty Images
A crowd of pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is warning against the release of security footage from during the Capitol attack to Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
Samuel Corum/Getty Images
Democrats are sounding the alarm that a Fox News host’s access to thousands of hours of security tapes from the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol could endanger the Capitol further and trigger a new wave of disinformation.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the release “one of the worst security risks since 9/11” in a letter to fellow senators Wednesday.
He issued the warning following reporting by Axios that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy granted Fox News host Tucker Carlson access to more than 40,000 hours of the tapes.
“The footage Speaker McCarthy is making available to Fox News is a treasure trove of closely held information about how the Capitol complex is protected and its public release would compromise the safety of the Legislative Branch and allow those who want to commit another attack to learn how Congress is safeguarded,” Schumer said.
Carlson on his Monday night program said his team was reviewing the security footage. He has been a key figure in spreading false claims related to the siege, including incorrect claims that “antifa” groups or the FBI could be to blame for the attack.
NPR has not independently confirmed Carlson’s team has access to the footage. Both Fox News and McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the letter, Schumer said that the footage could reveal the location of security cameras, which could make it harder for U.S. Capitol Police to do their work. He also expressed concern that the video footage would expose “highly-guarded plans for continuity of government.”
Earlier on Wednesday afternoon, House Democrats met virtually for a briefing on the matter, led in part by Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the former chair of the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, which completed its work in December.
“I’m not comfortable with the knowledge that I have right now that the security interests of the Capitol, the people who work there and the people who visit is protected,” Thompson, now the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security panel, said. “There are some items … that should not be made available to the general public.”
Thompson went on to detail the painstaking process the select committee followed during its investigation to access the security footage, and his worries the same procedures aren’t in place today.
The Jan. 6 panel had a separate, password-protected computer set up for committee staff to review the security footage. Those staff members worked with Capitol Police to coordinate which clips the committee wanted to share as part of its hearings.
“So without any knowledge of how this release [to Carlson] was negotiated, it’s a concern,” Thompson said.
Some moderate Republicans have argued in favor of more access to the tapes.
“Sunlight is the best medicine,” tweeted South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace.
Not sure why both sides of the aisle wouldn’t want every minute of the J6 video footage unfiltered, not redacted, for all to access. Every media outlet, every defense attorney, the public, etc. 🤷🏻♀️
Sunlight is the best medicine.
— Rep. Nancy Mace (@RepNancyMace) February 22, 2023
U.S. Capitol Police had already shared the security footage with Congress, meaning top congressional leaders and committees can now access and share the tapes.
“When Congressional Leadership or Congressional Oversight Committees ask for things like this, we must give it to them,” U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said in a statement.