Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is keeping a promise he made during his campaign to become House Speaker, releasing footage of the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol building exclusively to Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
"I was asked in the press about these tapes, and I said they do belong to the American public," McCarthy told The New York Times on Wednesday. "I think sunshine lets everybody make their own judgment."
Segments of the 41,000 hours of surveillance footage McCarthy agreed to hand over are expected to air on Carlson's show in the coming weeks.
GOP lawmakers have pressed McCarthy to release the footage for weeks; congressional Democrats railed against his decision, with many saying the move is politically motivated and puts the security of the Capitol at risk.
In a letter to his caucus, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., accused Carlson of being a pro-Russian conspiracy theorist and said that the transfer of video footage was "an egregious security breach."
"I write with respect to public reports that extreme MAGA Republicans in the House have provided tens of thousands of hours of sensitive Capitol security footage to a FOX News personality who regularly peddles in conspiracy theories and Pro-Putin rhetoric," Jeffries said, according to the Washington Examiner. "The apparent transfer of video footage represents an egregious security breach that endangers the hardworking women and men of the United States Capitol Police, who valiantly defended our democracy with their lives at risk on that fateful day."
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote a letter Wednesday castigating McCarthy for his decision.
"Giving someone as disingenuous as Tucker Carlson exclusive access to this type of sensitive information is a grave mistake by Speaker McCarthy that will only embolden supporters of the Big Lie and weaken faith in our democracy," Schumer said. "Let me be clear, the Senate strongly objects to the release of this sensitive security footage to Tucker Carlson and Fox News. The speaker — nor any elected official — does not have the right to jeopardize the safety of senators nor Senate and Capitol staff for their own political purposes. Period."
McCarthy told the Times that he plans to make the footage more widely available after Carlson's team has had an exclusive airing.
In a fundraising email to potential donors, McCarthy took credit for the decision.
"I promised I would give you the truth regarding Jan. 6, and now I am delivering," he said, according to the Times.
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