The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has pushed back against suggestions that video footage from the January 6 protesters recently aired by Fox News host Tucker Carlson exonerates those who were arrested and prosecuted over the event.
In a 10-page legal filing, U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves responded to a motion by the defense for Proud Boys member Dominic Pezzola, which sought the dismissal of the case due to an alleged Brady violation based on the newly-released camera footage aired by Carlson.
A Brady rule violation occurs when prosecutors in a criminal case fail to provide evidence to the defense team, which usually fall into three categories: evidence that someone else committed the crime, evidence that a government witness may be lying, or evidence that the sentence should be less harsh.
Pezzola’s lawyer also says the case should be dismissed on grounds that the “prosecution has been monitoring attorney/client communications of defendants, destroying evidence[,] and doctoring and fabricating evidence involving confidential human sources (CHSs).”
According to the DOJ, all of the footage that aired on Carlson’s show had already been provided to the defense during the discovery process. The DOJ argues that “overwhelming trial evidence” was already presented, and that the “attorney/client communications” in question were not privileged, as they occurred on a jail e-mail system all parties knew was monitored.
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) provided Carlson with with roughly 44,000 hours of security footage from the Capitol on Jan. 6 — most of which was unseen by the public. Carlson showed multiple clips during his primetime show, describing the event as “mostly peaceful chaos.”
The footage aired by Carlson, which has been widely considered to be exculpatory, was omitted from televised hearings of Congress’s January 6 Committee, re-fueling allegations that the prosecutions of hundreds of attendees have been a partisan, political hit job.
In an op-ed published shortly after the segment aired with the never-before-seen-footage, Carlson wrote:
Last night, we aired video from surveillance cameras on Capitol Hill. That video was recorded 26 months to the day before January 6, 2021, and for 26 months, that footage was held from the American public. The January 6 Committee made certain. Now, the Justice Department also kept a lid on that video footage and in fact, in some cases, DOJ did not share it with criminal defendants who had been charged on January 6 in violation of their constitutional rights.
We felt it was a public service to bring what we could to you. There was no justification for keeping the secret any longer and a powerful argument to be made that sunlight is always and everywhere the best disinfectant and in fact, because it was video evidence, it is to some extent self-explanatory.
U.S. attorneys, however, argue that the footage was “not shocking” and was not withheld from the attorneys representing people charged with crimes in connection with the events on January 6.
Graves writes in the filing that Pezzola’s possession of the videos in question upends his Brady violation claim.
The DOJ also says the footage aired by Carlson “lacks the context of what occurred before and after the footage.”