U.S. Democrats attack McCarthy over Fox News access to Jan. 6 riot videos

U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) delivers remarks on the debt ceiling, in Washington
U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) delivers remarks on the debt ceiling, outside of his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 6, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

WASHINGTON, Feb 22 (Reuters) - U.S. Congress Democrats accused House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy of endangering Capitol Police officers and potentially exposing security secrets if he releases thousands of hours of video footage from the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot to Fox News' Tucker Carlson.

"The speaker is needlessly exposing the Capitol complex to one of the worst security risks since 9/11," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a letter to his fellow senators on Wednesday.

TV host Carlson said on a Monday broadcast that McCarthy had given him and his producers the tapes that Schumer said contain "a treasure trove of closely held information" on security in the Capitol complex as well as highly guarded plans for the continuity of government in the event of an attack.

Democrats had closely held the tapes when they controlled the House.

Carlson has been a critic of the House investigation into Jan. 6 and has falsely accused the government of orchestrating the attack. During the broadcast, Carlson said he and his team were reviewing the tapes and would say more next week.

Last month, Republicans took majority control of the chamber and elected McCarthy as speaker, but only after multiple votes in which hard-right Republicans blocked his election unless he gave them more power.

McCarthy aides did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday House Democrats were to hold a virtual caucus, according to Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries. Representative Bennie Thompson, who chaired the select committee that investigated the Jan. 6 attack by supporters of former President Donald Trump, was scheduled to address caucus members.

"When the Select Committee obtained access to U.S. Capitol Police video footage, it was treated with great sensitivity given concerns about the security of lawmakers, staff, and the Capitol complex," Thompson said in a statement on Wednesday, noting that access was limited to lawmakers and "a small handful" of investigators and senior staff.

The Jan. 6 riot came shortly after Trump addressed supporters near the White House and urged them to go to the Capitol to protest the Congress' ongoing certification of Joe Biden's November 2020 win in that year's presidential election.

Trump falsely claimed the election was "stolen" from him as the result of massive voter fraud. He continues to argue so and has announced that he will again seek the presidency in 2024.

Five people including a police officer died during or shortly after the riot and more than 140 police officers were injured. The Capitol suffered millions of dollars in damage.

Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Josie Kao

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