In a statement that quickly entered into wide circulation, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) told reporters that part of the reason for the delay in releasing the thousands of hours of videotape recorded on January 6, 2021 was the “methodical” treatment of those tapes, which included, the Speaker said, the “blurring” of some of the faces of people on the Capitol premises that day.
The admission — and the explanation Johnson gave — led Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA), a Georgetown-trained lawyer, to quickly surmise that “this video blurring action by House Republicans could constitute obstruction of justice” if the Department of Justice “believes the videos at issue constitute evidence.”
Johnson could respond that the blurring was only for tapes released in public, whereas as the DOJ would see un-doctored versions, but his own statement made clear that his intent was to obscure the faces from the Justice Department also, because, he said, “we don’t want” the people in the videos to be “charged by the DOJ.”
Republican House Leadership has apparently taken action to hide criminal behavior.— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) December 5, 2023
If the Department of Justice believes the videos at issue constitute evidence, then this video blurring action by House Republicans could constitute obstruction of justice. https://t.co/Qesr8Qeo5G
Johnson said specifically: “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 and to have other concerns and problems.”
“Republican House Leadership,” writes Lieu, “has apparently taken action to hide criminal behavior.” It is an accusation plainly backed up by Johnson’s own statement.