More than nine months after a riot interrupted proceedings on Capitol Hill, nagging questions remain concerning the events that transpired that fateful day in January.
While there is no shortage of security video footage of the Jan. 6 unrest, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and company have released very little of it to the public. Now, however, one conservative group is fighting to change that.
Judicial Watch describes its mission as promoting “transparency, accountability and integrity in government.” In February, it filed a lawsuit seeking the release of videos taken before, during, and after the disturbance on Jan. 6.
Capitol Police fight back
Also sought by Judicial Watch were emails and other communications relating to the preparations made for and response to the unrest by the U.S. Capitol police and other law enforcement agencies in Washington.
However, Judicial Watch announced in August that the U.S. Capitol Police was continuing to stonewall, arguing that the material does not constitute “public records.”
The U.S. Capitol Police is unique in that unlike all other federal law enforcement agencies, it is part of the legislative branch, rather than answering to the executive.
That’s significant, as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) does not apply to the legislative branch, meaning that it is not under the same obligation to comply with requests for information from citizens and journalists.
Congress exempts itself from FOIA
Tom Fitton serves as president of Judicial Watch, and in a video posted to the group’s Facebook page on Sunday, he complained that Democrats have used the loophole to keep Americans in the dark.
“So they say it’s the worst day, comparable to 9/11, but we can’t have anything…showing what happened that day. How do you like them apples?” he pressed.
“It used to be that you could walk into the office buildings and go to your member of Congress,” Fitton pointed out. “That’s pretty tough to do now. You just can’t do it, it’s severely restricted.”
Fitton went on to say that his group has filed a motion asking that a federal judge grant it the ability to gather evidence from the U.S. Capitol Police about the preservation and use of the footage from Jan. 6. “What Judicial Watch is doing is that we’re trying to hold Congress accountable and get full truth of what went on on January 6 by asking for the videos from the day of the riot,” he explained. Take a look: