Opinion: Blurred faces on Jan. 6 - your tax dollars at work

Insurrectionists stream into the U.S. Capitol building after breaching through the East Door on the second day of pro-Trump events fueled by President Donald Trump's continued claims of election fraud on Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Insurrectionists stream into the U.S. Capitol building after breaching through the East Door on the second day of pro-Trump events fueled by President Donald Trump's continued claims of election fraud on Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

The seemingly never-ending GOP drive to absolve former President Donald Trump and his supporters of wrongdoing on Jan. 6 has taken a new turn — U.S. House Republicans are now using your tax dollars to try to prevent future prosecutions.

Speaker Mike Johnson told reporters this week that the slow public release of internal Capitol security tapes from Jan. 6 is because the GOP wants to protect rioters who might get in legal trouble.

“We have to blur some of the faces of persons who participated in the events of that day because we don’t want them to be retaliated against and to be charged by the DOJ (Department of Justice),” the speaker told reporters.

And that’s where your tax dollars are being used — Republicans in Congress are spending money to blur the faces found in approximately 44,000 hours of security tapes.

“We’ve hired additional personnel to do that,” the speaker explained.

Democrats ridiculed the GOP move.

“The Speaker of the House is helping terrorists cover up their violent crimes,” said U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif.

Others mocked the effort by sending around blurred photos of Donald Trump.

In charge of the video is U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, who has long challenged the findings of the Jan. 6 investigation.

“We just want to protect the identities of innocent people,” Loudermilk told the Huffington Post this week.

Three months ago, Loudermilk opened up the Jan. 6 tapes to reporters like me — and we were allowed to request video snippets for public release.

After watching for six hours, I submitted my video requests back in September — and nothing has been released as yet.

Let’s be clear about one thing: This GOP move won’t stop the feds, who already have access to the security tapes. Instead, this is aimed more at online sleuths like the “Sedition Hunters,” who have been slowly identifying rioters, with their work sometimes getting picked up by prosecutors.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome, who initially wanted the tapes released, and then backtracked because releasing them might open up more people to prosecution, now wants the GOP to set up what might be best described as a “revenge committee” about Jan. 6.

“We should issue subpoenas for every single member of the Jan 6th committee,” Greene tweeted this week, demanding criminal prosecutions of fellow lawmakers under a second Trump administration.

Remember, every person who showed up to protest on Jan. 6 had a right to be there.

But no one had the right to start a U.S. Capitol riot — blurred faces or not.

Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and Congress from Washington, D.C. since the Reagan administration. His column appears weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com

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