Donald Trump Has Demands: Following the airing by Tucker Carlson of new footage of the attack on the Capitol, the former president is calling for those who rioted on his behalf to be released from prison.
What Do We Know Now?
The attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 is one of the most extensively documented events of the last 20 years.
It happened, after all, on live television.
Numerous participants in the insurrection live-streamed all of their actions on that day, footage that was later used in dozens of prosecutions, and later published by ProPublica.
There have already been many feature-length documentaries released that have touched on the events of that day, with likely more to come.
And the January 6 Committee, last year, released a huge amount of footage that had never been seen before that time.
Based on all of that video, and voluminous other evidence, there have been a massive amount of arrests and convictions.
As of January, per the Justice Department, there had been 950 arrests, nearly 500 guilty pleas, and more than 40 convictions at trial in cases related to January 6. More than 350 defendants “had their cases adjudicated and received sentences for their criminal activity on January 6,” including four people convicted of seditious conspiracy, per DOJ.
Donald Trump and Alternate “Truths”
Nevertheless, there’s been something resembling a truther movement, seeking an alternative explanation to the truth. Sadky hundreds of people, inspired by President Trump’s lies that the election was stolen from him, charged the Capitol with violent and malicious intentions, leading to assaults on 140 police officers, nearly $3 million in damage to the building, and chants calling for the hanging of the vice president of the United States. These have included half-hearted attempts to claim that “Antifa” had set up the Capitol attack, or that informants from the FBI or other law enforcement agencies were ultimately responsible.
In recent weeks, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has agreed to hand 44,000 hours of new security video to Fox News host Tucker Carlson, meant to feed this bogus counter-narrative, something that Carlson had demanded when McCarthy was in his contentious fight to become speaker.
Carlson began airing the footage on Monday night, and to say what he’s come up with is underwhelming would be an understatement.
The big gotchas from the first batch of footage appear to be that Sen. Josh Hawley — widely mocked for running away from the mob, even after he’d raised a fist to them in solidarity hours before — was not the only senator to run away. Also, there’s some footage of the protesters standing around doing nothing violent, and some footage of police officers leading the “QAnon shamen” around the building, which would appear to incriminate the officers much more than exonerate the shamen. That man, whose real name is Jacob Chansley, was sentenced to 41 months in prison.
Former President Donald Trump, currently facing a Special Counsel probe over his part in the insurrection, reacted to Carlson’s release of the video by calling for the release of those convicted of January 6th-related crimes.
“LET THE JANUARY 6 PRISONERS GO. THEY WERE CONVICTED, OR ARE AWAITING TRIAL, BASED ON A GIANT LIE, A RADICAL LEFT CON JOB,” Donald Trump posted to Truth Social on Tuesday morning. “THANK YOU TO TUCKER CARLSON AND SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE KEVIN McCARTHY FOR WHAT YOU BOTH HAVE DONE. NEW VIDEO FOOTAGE IS IRREFUTABLE!!!”
This should make clear the next Republican president, whether it’s Donald Trump or someone else, may very well hand blanket pardons to most or all January 6 defendants – and there will certainly be a demand from the conservative base that they do so. And whether that happens or not could emerge as a contentious issue in the 2024 presidential election.
“I and so many others who were here… are just furious with Tucker Carson and Kevin McCarthy today,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) said of the release of the footage.
The George Orwell quote “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command” was bandied about quite frequently in response to the Carlson segment.
Expertise and Experience: Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.