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Media organizations sue for Capitol Hill surveillance tapes that McCarthy gave to Fox News

<i>Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images</i><br/>Several media organizations
Getty Images
Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images
Several media organizations

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN Reporter, Crime and Justice

Nine national media organizations, including CNN, are suing for access to Capitol Hill surveillance tapes of January 6, 2021, that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has provided to Fox News but so far to no other press outlets.

The lawsuit, filed in the federal court in DC against the FBI and US Attorney’s Offices at the Justice Department, argues that other media outlets should be given access to 44,000 hours of tapes now since they’ve been given to Tucker Carlson’s producers at Fox.

“Plaintiffs here are among the many news organizations that have been denied access to the Capitol Surveillance Videos by the Speaker’s Office,” lawyers for the press coalition write. “That denial of access is a stark change of pace for these Plaintiffs, as over the past two years they have diligently, cooperatively, and successfully pursued and obtained access to thousands of videos of the Capitol riot that have been used as evidence or otherwise become judicial records in more than a hundred cases in this District against those charged with organizing or participating in the riot.”

The press coalition isn’t suing the House or the speaker directly. Instead, they are seeking access to the tapes through another mechanism, the federal public records law that the Justice Department, but not Congress, is covered by.

The press coalition argues that the disclosure to Fox makes the tapes available to members of the public at the network — tapes that the Justice Department has copies of and should have to provide to other members of the public who request them.

“Despite that clear and controlling ‘prior disclosure’ doctrine, the EOUSA has constructively denied a FOIA request for the Capitol Surveillance Videos that these Plaintiffs submitted in February 2023. And even though it is leading the riot investigation and has published excerpts of the Capitol Surveillance Videos on its own website, the FBI has absurdly and improperly claimed that it searched for but was ‘unable to identify’ the requested records,” the lawsuit says.

Prior to the Fox News disclosure, the US Capitol Police had sought to keep some angles of CCTV footage from inside the Capitol during the insurrection confidential from the press and public due to security concerns.

CNN reported last month that Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s office said it was still considering ways to make the footage “more widely available.”

The press coalition on Wednesday said the speaker’s office hasn’t provided even a timeline for when that access might be given, according to the lawsuit.

In addition to CNN, the press coalition includes Advance Publications, The Associated Press, CBS News, E.W. Scripps, Gannett, Politico, ProPublica and The New York Times.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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