Judicial Watch announced on Friday the U.S. Capitol Police seeks to shut down a public records lawsuit for January 6 disturbance video and emails by arguing to a federal court that the requested are “not public records.”
Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit in February 2021 under the common law right of access to public records after the Capitol Police refused to provide any records in response to a January 21, 2021, request for:
- Email communications between the U.S. Capitol Police Executive Team and the Capitol Police Board concerning the security of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The timeframe of this request is from January 1, 2021 through January 10, 2021.
- Email communications of the Capitol Police Board with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security concerning the security of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The timeframe of this request is from January 1, 2021 through January 10, 2021.
- All video footage from within the Capitol between 12 pm and 9 pm on January 6, 2021.
Regarding withholding the videos, the Capitol Police told the court:
The USCP’s camera security system, including footage recorded by it within the Capitol and sought by [Judicial Watch], is solely for national security and law enforcement purposes.
Access to video footage from the USCP’s camera security system is limited to narrow circumstances and strictly controlled by USCP policy.
The USCP has not made any public disclosures of video footage from January 6 from its camera security system.
There are currently pending criminal investigations and prosecutions of individuals involved in the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
There are currently pending congressional investigations into the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
In its motion, the Capitol Police also argues the case should be closed because, among other assertions, even if the records Judicial Watch asks for are “public records,” the USCP’s interests in confidentiality “outweigh any public interest in those materials.”
It also claims not to have access to many of the emails sought by Judicial Watch.
“To cut to the chase, the US Capitol Police is hiding a reported 14,000 hours of January 6 video from the American people to help Nancy Pelosi’s abusive targeting of Trump supporters and other political opponents,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Any other police department in America would be investigated and defunded for such abusive secrecy. The Pelosi Congress is in cover-up mode regarding January 6.”
Judicial Watch is conducting an extensive investigation into the January 6 events in Washington, DC.
Earlier this month, Judicial Watch uncovered documents from Washington, DC’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) related to Air Force veteran and San Diego native Ashli Babbitt. These documents reveal that OCME submitted a request for permission to cremate Babbitt only two days after taking custody of her body and that due to the “high profile nature” of Babbitt’s case, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Francisco Diaz requested that a secure electronic file with limited access be created for Babbitt’s records. Additionally, Babbitt’s fingerprints were emailed to a person supposedly working for the DC government, which resulted in Microsoft “undeliverable” messages written in Chinese characters being returned.
In July, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit against the DOJ for records of communication between the FBI and several financial institutions about the reported transfer of financial transactions made by people in DC, Maryland and Virginia on January 5 and January 6, 2021. The FBI refused to confirm or deny any such records exist. Also in July, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) for information relating to the tracking and collecting of Americans’ social media posts through its Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP).
In May, Judicial Watch sued both the Department of the Interior and the Department of Defense for records regarding the deployment of armed forces around the Capitol complex in Washington, D.C., in January and February of 2021.
In March, Judicial Watch sued the District of Columbia for the autopsy of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick and related records. Pressure from this lawsuit helped lead to the disclosure that Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died of natural causes. Also in March, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense for records about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s January 8, 2021, telephone call with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley.