Republican lawmakers say newly revealed U.S. Capitol security footage from Jan. 6, 2021, may have exonerated many of the people who were arrested and charged with committing acts of violence that day.
The reams of security footage, which were kept under wraps until House Speaker Kevin McCarthy released it to a news outlet, also contradicted some of the narratives promoted last year by the Democrat-run House Jan. 6 committee about what went on inside the Capitol.
“We’re looking at things that we hadn’t seen before. I think it’s important to show that the Jan. 6 committee may be selectively edited. You’ll never convince me it wasn’t a bad day. It was a terrible day,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, told The Washington Times.
Mr. Graham also demanded answers to why police escorted Jacob Chansley, the Jan. 6 demonstrator known as the “QAnon Shaman,” through the Capitol and into the Senate chamber.
“Why didn’t somebody stop him?” the senator asked. “How did the system fail?”
The security video aired this week on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” showed most pro-Trump protesters who breached the Capitol were not a raucous “deadly” mob but mostly a large group of people walking around the Capitol like tourists.
Mr. Chansley was seen entering the Capitol with a group through a Senate doorway with a bullhorn and being escorted by nine different Capitol Police officers into the Senate chamber.
Mr. Graham described it as a permissive environment around the Capitol that day and said Jan. 6 defendants not charged with violence, theft or destruction of property should be cleared of wrongdoing with this new evidence.
“They may get some relief. That line of reasoning that everybody was walking into the Capitol and walking by the cops and ‘nobody stopped me,’” he said. “Those who beat the cops, broke the [windows] and committed violence should pay a price. One size doesn’t fit all.”
Sen. James Lankford, Oklahoma Republican, said there were “a lot of sides of that day. That’s the hard part. There’s not going to be a single camera [angle] on that day.”
He said something must be done to deal with the grievances related to the Jan. 6 defendants not involved in any violence or theft at the Capitol who got lumped in with those who committed the most egregious crimes.
“That’s been a problem from the beginning is that there’s this assumption that everyone was the same and it wasn’t,” he said.
Other Republican lawmakers were not impressed by the release of the footage. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, condemned Mr. Carlson for how he aired the video, saying he had the same opinion of it as the Capitol Police chief.
U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger said the broadcast presented “offensive and misleading conclusions” about the Jan. 6 attack.
Sen Mitt Romney, Utah Republican, told reporters that the American people already saw what happened at the Jan. 6 riot.
“They’ve seen the people that got injured. They saw the damage to the building. You can’t hide the truth by selectively picking a few minutes out of tapes and saying this is what went on. It’s so absurd. It’s nonsense,” he said.
Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, however, offered a more nuanced view.
“Any fair assessment of what occurred would acknowledge that there were some people who engaged in acts of violence and if you engaged in an act of violence you should be prosecuted and go to jail,” Mr. Cruz said.
Correction: An early version of this story misidentified which chamber Jacob Chansley entered in the U.S. Capitol.
• Kerry Picket can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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