In a statement at a House Republican Leadership press conference, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said that the party would be releasing tapes from the Jan. 6th Capitol riot as an exercise in transparency so that “everyone can see them and draw their own conclusions.”
Johnson said the party would be releasing the tapes as soon as it could after blurring the faces of some of the participants.
“We don’t want them to be retaliated against and to be charged by the DOJ,” Johnson said.
In July, the Department of Justice put out a press release reporting that more than 1,069 people had been charged in cases related to the riot, with around 350 charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers or employees, and 935 charged with entering and/or staying in a restricted federal building or grounds, among other charges.
“I think the January 6th committee was a partisan enterprise,” Johnson said. “They claim it was bipartisan, but I think we all recognize that the two ‘Republican’ members that served on that committee had another agenda,” referring to former Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger
The Jan. 6 Committee’s investigation was separate from the FBI’s efforts to track down and charge Capitol rioters, although its unclear if there was any coordination between the efforts.
Johnson claimed the report produced by the committee was biased and hid important evidence, and that to address that they’d be releasing the tapes, but also hiring extra staff to help with the blurring.
Those on the right have long demanded the entirety of the Jan. 6 tapes be released, saying they proved no riot happened. Tucker Carlson allegedly got access to 40,000 hours when he was still at Fox News, but only produced one segment.
A recent release of some footage was shared by conservatives who believed the FBI railroaded an innocent protester.
The entirety of the footage has become something of a white whale for the far-right.
On X, posters from both sides of the aisle quickly jumped on what they saw as a coverup.
“Blurring out faces of rioters is aiding and abetting felons, and obstruction of justice,” wrote one poster.
“Some of these people were grandmas who wandered in to the Capital when the police invited them in. Hardly rioters,” replied another.
“Even if that were true, they’d have nothing to hide,” answered the first poster.
Other posters called the effort to blur out the faces as an attempt to hide the identity of possible federal agents who’d allegedly been involved in instigating the riots to discredit former President Donald Trump and by extension Republican, a popular theory among some on the right.
“Hmmm. I’m thinking he is going to blur out the faces of the feds since the agencies already have access to the video,” wrote Jason Robertson, a right-wing talk radio host.
“Or to, you know, identify FBI and other agents in the crowd. That would be bad for, you know, our alphabet agencies that we fund with tax dollars, to protect and serve,” wrote another, echoing the idea that federal agents were involved in the riot.
“COVERUP: House is going to blur the faces of faces on J6 tapes to protect the hundreds of undercover agents and informants in the Capitol that day,” wrote a user on GETTR.
Still, others pointed out that that blurring the publicly released video wouldn’t make much of a difference to the law enforcement agencies, who likely already had access to the unredacted videos.
“I’m guessing the FBI and DOJ have already seen all this footage and have copies of what they need to prosecute the rioters,” wrote @GenXy67. “Therefore it is just a political stunt on Mikey’s part.”
However, numerous self-proclaimed Jan. 6 hunters have been pouring over footage since the riot, and blurring the faces might protect people from being swarmed by online crowds.