WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today former Obama White House ethics advisor Norman Eisen and Bush White House ethics advisor Richard Painter joined Public Citizen in a complaint filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics over House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) exclusive release of footage from the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol to a single news outlet. Fox News analyst Tucker Carlson released the first of the footage on his show last night.
Among the questions raised by the complaint is whether Rep. McCarthy’s release of the tapes constituted a possible security threat. The complaint notes that the public release of any security footage by the Jan. 6 committee was done in coordination and with the permission of the Capitol Police. “These precautions were taken to avoid releasing information that could compromise security procedures in the Capitol, such as exposing the locations of security cameras, escape routes and logistics at the Capitol.”
Initially, the planned transfer of the records by Rep. McCarthy appeared to be without the coordination or permission of the Capitol Police, which potentially could expose security systems and escape routes within the Capitol Building.
News outlets first reported in February that Rep. McCarthy had or will turn over more than 40,000 hours of security footage exclusively to Tucker Carlson. Other news outlets sent letters to McCarthy requesting the same access and raised concerns that Carlson’s selective release of videos and other confidential information about the insurrection could be used by Fox News to advocate an inaccurate story of events.
The complaint also notes that the exclusive release of the Jan. 6 video footage appears to have been the result of a political agreement between Rep. McCarthy, Tucker Carlson and others in McCarthy’s bid to become Speaker. “Just as importantly, it was wrong for Speaker McCarthy to provide this footage to one organization that happens to be politically aligned with him and not release the videos to the media generally at the same time. This is not like granting an exclusive interview; this is providing a valuable government resource exclusively to one outlet and discriminating against others, which flies in the face of First Amendment values.”
“The Speaker’s release of security footage exclusively to Tucker Carlson is pure and simple using congressional resources for partisan gamesmanship – the very type of polarizing gamesmanship that has caused such damage to the public’s perception of the integrity of Congress,” notes the complaint. “For these reasons, we ask that the Office of Congressional Ethics and the House Ethics Committee investigate whether the apparent unauthorized release of the Jan. 6 security footage constitutes a violation of congressional rules.”