Skip to content

House GOP reverses course on Jan. 6 footage, will no longer blur faces

Speaker Mike Johnson cites ‘logistic hurdles’ of blurring and announces release of 5,000 more hours

Speaker Mike Johnson is reflected in a video camera lens at the Capitol on Thursday. The Louisiana Republican announced the release of a new tranche of Jan. 6 footage on Friday.
Speaker Mike Johnson is reflected in a video camera lens at the Capitol on Thursday. The Louisiana Republican announced the release of a new tranche of Jan. 6 footage on Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans will no longer blur the faces of Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol rioters in security footage posted online, Speaker Mike Johnson announced Friday.

The decision reverses an earlier call to protect the identities of those who participated in the pro-Trump mob attack aimed at stopping the certification of election results. The House Administration Committee, which took possession of all Jan. 6-related materials at the beginning of this Congress, has been publishing footage from the attack on Rumble, the streaming platform known for its popularity among right-wing users. An additional 5,000 hours of footage was set to be released Friday.

“Upon extensive further consultation with the Committee, and at my direction, the Committee will no longer plan to blur the faces of individuals in the footage given the significant logistic hurdles involved and the importance of getting this work completed as responsibly and efficiently as possible,” Johnson said in a statement.

Since taking over the speakership in October, Johnson has partnered with Georgia Republican Rep. Barry Loudermilk to start fulfilling a Republican promise to make security footage public. With the raw footage available, people can decide for themselves what happened that day, Loudermilk has argued.

“My subcommittee’s investigation has always been about providing the American people with full transparency about January 6th,” Loudermilk posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, on Friday.

Loudermilk, who chairs the House Administration subpanel that has launched a reinvestigation of the Capitol attack, has targeted the Jan. 6 Select Committee convened in the previous Congress under Democratic leadership. He has questioned the findings and motives of that select committee, which held a series of high-profile televised hearings depicting the violence and chaos perpetrated by the pro-Trump mob. 

Meanwhile, Democrats, and some Republicans, have lampooned his effort, claiming it’s part of a broader Republican attempt — led by former President Donald Trump — to rewrite history.

“It wasn’t a tourist visit,” said Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, who chaired the select committee, in December. “It wasn’t anything other than individuals who our committee found were prompted by President Trump to do exactly what they did.”

Despite the Republican promise to make footage public, more than a year later, its release online has come in dribs and drabs.

Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who was ousted in October and left Congress this winter, initially made the footage available only to then-Fox News host Tucker Carlson. In September, Loudermilk announced the footage would be available to members of the media and defendants. And in November small batches of footage began to be posted for the public to view online.

According to Loudermilk, that public posting of security tapes was slowed by the decision to blur faces, which Johnson initially said was necessary to protect rioters from the Department of Justice. His office later walked back his statement, saying it was necessary to protect them from “non-governmental” investigators.

Abandoning the strategy will mean more access to security footage sooner, lawmakers said. Footage that’s already been blurred will be re-uploaded without the blurring, according to the committee.

“Today’s decision will significantly expedite CCTV footage releases, all of which will be made available to the American public within the next few months, without blurring or editing,” Loudermilk said in the statement.

Recent Stories

House bill gives up to a year to sell TikTok; eyes Russian assets

We all became Bob Graham

On Senate floor, Mayorkas impeachment sparks procedural clash

Senate dispenses with Mayorkas impeachment without a trial

Steve Garvey: Not the next Jim Bunning

Capitol Lens | Former Sen. Bob Graham, 1936–2024