14,000 hours of Capitol riot videos aren’t even public yet: report

The second impeachment trial of President Donald Trump showed several videos from the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Another slate of videos were shown at the first hearing with Capitol Police and DC Metro cops testified about their experience. According to BuzzFeed Justice reporter Zoe Tillman those videos just scratched the surface of what the House Committee has for the hearings.

"Surveillance cameras captured more than 14,000 hours of footage between noon and 8 p.m. on Jan. 6," wrote Tillman. "These videos would paint the most complete picture of what happened inside, but the US Capitol Police, backed by federal prosecutors, have strictly controlled who can see them and how much footage can be shared with the public."

The footage would show the movement of insurrectionists as they moved through the Capitol building as well as lawmakers and police officers. They could also fill timeline gaps previously unnoticed and give the committee information about where key lawmakers were during the attack.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) told the Washington Post that they are looking to reports of Republicans giving tours or being in contact with attackers ahead of the insurrection. There are some locations that may not become public as they show areas of the building used for members' safety.

The U.S. Attorney's office in Washington revealed nine videos of Nathaniel DeGrave after media outlets petitioned for the information. Two of those videos, however, the DOJ said should be kept secret because of where they are positioned. The prosecutor argued that the court should hold back footage from inside the building but that outside footage being revealed wouldn't pose a threat.

"It goes without saying that disclosing this sensitive infrastructure to the public, including hundreds of individuals who have already shown a willingness to storm the Capitol in an attempt to obstruct such crucial proceedings to our democracy as the certification of the Electoral College vote, would be detrimental," the prosecutor in DeGrave's case explained in the brief. "Once the capabilities of a U.S. Capitol interior surveillance camera, including its position and whether it pans, tilts or zooms, is disclosed to the public via the release of a single video from that camera, the cat is out of the bag."

The judge, in that case, agreed, writing in an Aug. 13 decision, "Such disclosure would reveal information that could be used by anyone who might wish to attack the Capitol in the future."

Surveillance videos from the Capitol show video of the incident but there's no audio of it, unlike bodycam footage which records both.

Other judges have erred on the side of transparency. US District Chief Judge Beryl Howell, for example, asked the prosecutors to show her videos cited in the court documents. "Once they did, the judge asked the government and the defense to weigh in on whether she should release them to the public. The government objected to releasing five surveillance videos, citing security concerns," said the BuzzFeed report.

"Despite the fact that the attack of the Capitol was broadcast on television — not just in the United States, but globally — and into the homes of millions of Americans, debate and dispute over what really happened that day continues," Howell said. "In this context, it behooves the government to explain its prosecutorial decisions in how different kinds of conduct are being charged and resolved, and support those decisions with the evidence at hand."

Read the full report by BuzzFeed here.