Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Capitol Police to obtain videos and documents pertaining to the Jan. 6 riot.
According to a news release from the organization, it filed the lawsuit under the common law right to access public records. The group added that Capitol Police “refused to provide any records” after the Jan. 6 incident.
Email communications between the Capitol Police’s executive team and the Capitol Police Board about the Jan. 6 security were sought by the conservative-leaning watchdog group. It also requested emails between the Police Board and the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security about security details on Jan. 6—as well as all video footage from inside the Capitol between 12 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Jan. 6, according to Judicial Watch.
“The public has a right to know about how Congress handled security and what all the videos show of the US Capitol riot,” says Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “What are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer trying to hide from the American people?” He is referring to the Democratic House speaker and Senate majority leader.
The organization noted that Congress exempts itself from the Freedom of Information Act, which is a federal law passed in 1967 that requires the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the federal government upon request.
The Capitol Police stated in a Feb. 11 letter that the materials sought by Judicial Watch do not constitute “public records,” said Judicial Watch.
Next week, former Senate Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper Michael Stenger, former House Sergeant at Arms Paul D. Irving, and former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund are slated to testify in a Senate Homeland Security hearing, according to lawmakers. All three have resigned.
“The security failures that led to the breach endangered not just the Vice President and the Congress, but the peaceful, democratic transfer of power itself. The American people deserve a complete accounting of those failures,” lawmakers wrote last week in a letter in regards to their request.
Separately, the union representing the Capitol Police delivered an overwhelming vote of “no confidence” in the department’s leadership, including Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman.
About 92 percent of union members voted “no confidence” in Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman, who became the agency’s chief two days after the breach. Around 97 percent voted “no confidence” in Capitol Police Captain Ben Smith, according to the union. Other leaders received a high degree of “no confidence” votes.
“The current leadership is just a continuation of the past regimes on this Department and there needs to be accountability,” U.S. Capitol Police Labor Union Chairman Gus Papathanasiou said on Monday in a news release. “Their failures are inexcusable. This vote, which the majority of the officers in the bargaining unit participated in, shows they have lost our trust. The anger in this department is widespread and the trust that has been broken it is not going to be regained.”