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Schumer slams McCarthy over Tucker Carlson's access to Jan. 6 security video

Senate Majority Leader Schumer says Speaker McCarthy's reported actions could expose the Capitol and its workers to a security risk like the nation saw on 9/11.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., at a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 2.Jose Luis Magana / AP file

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s reported decision to hand over thousands of hours of security video from the Jan. 6 attack to conservative Fox News host Tucker Carlson “poses grave security risks” to lawmakers and others who work in the Capitol.

And it could lead to another assault on the building, Schumer, D-N.Y., warned in a letter to Senate colleagues.

“The speaker is needlessly exposing the Capitol complex to one of the worst security risks since 9/11,” Schumer wrote. “The footage Speaker McCarthy is making available to Fox News is a treasure trove of closely held information about how the Capitol complex is protected and its public release would compromise the safety of the Legislative Branch and allow those who want to commit another attack to learn how Congress is safeguarded.”

Releasing the security video discloses the locations of security cameras across the Capitol grounds, “making it harder and more dangerous for our brave Capitol police officers to do their job,” Schumer said. It also could reveal “highly guarded plans for the continuity of government” in the event of an attack.

“All things anyone who would want to harm our country would love to learn,” Schumer said.

Carlson told his viewers Monday that he and his producers had gained access to roughly 44,000 hours of security camera video taken from the Jan. 6 riot.

Axios and other news outlets have reported that McCarthy, R-Calif., provided the video to Carlson. NBC News has not independently verified that information. McCarthy's office did not respond to repeated requests for comment about the matter.

In his letter Wednesday, Schumer said it was particularly dangerous for McCarthy to be turning over video to Carlson, who has used his show to promote Donald Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen and to float conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6 attack. 

By "handpicking Tucker Carlson, Speaker McCarthy laid bare that this sham is simply about pandering to MAGA election deniers, not the truth,” Schumer said. “Tucker Carlson has no fidelity to the truth or facts and has used his platform to promote the Big Lie, distort reality, and espouse bogus conspiracy theories about January 6.”

Carlson said his team is reviewing the video and “trying to figure out what it means and how it contradicts or not the story we’ve been told for two years” about Jan. 6, 2021. News of the release of the video was cheered by conservative hard-liners like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who has downplayed the deadly attack and was a vocal supporter of McCarthy’s bid for speaker.

In his letter, Schumer claimed that McCarthy had agreed to release the video to the public to secure support from conservatives that he needed to be elected speaker last month.

“Unfortunately, Speaker McCarthy, to get the votes he needed from the MAGA wing of the House Republican Conference to become speaker, agreed to make tens of thousands of hours of sensitive footage from across the Capitol complex publicly available,” Schumer said. “This disclosure poses grave security risks to members of Congress and everyone who works on Capitol Hill.”

Schumer went on to say: “Let me be clear, the Senate strongly objects to the release of this sensitive security footage to Tucker Carlson and Fox News. The speaker — nor any elected official — does not have the right to jeopardize the safety of senators nor Senate and Capitol staff for their own political purposes. Period. Full stop.”