WORLD Journalist sues US Congress for surveillance footage, other records related to Capitol riot

WORLD

Journalist sues US Congress for surveillance footage, other records related to Capitol riot

Xinhua

14:29, August 19, 2021

WASHINGTON, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- A U.S. freelance journalist on Wednesday sued Congress for footage and other records pertaining to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, arguing that concealing those records from the public eye is a manifestation of the legislative branch's lack of transparency.

Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather near the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., the United States, on Jan. 6, 2020. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

Shawn Musgrave, in the lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asked a judge to recognize a "common law right of access" to congressional records, which are exempt from public records laws like the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The lawsuit was filed against the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP), the House Sergeant at Arms and the secretary of the Senate.

"The result of FOIA inapplicability, in combination with almost nothing requiring further transparency to the public from these offices, has roundly led to low transparency and high secrecy," the complaint reads, adding that the lack of transparency has become even more apparent in the face of increased public interest in congressional security in the wake of Jan. 6.

"However, these offices are subject to the common law right of access to public records, as all three branches of government are subject to that right."

Musgrave is seeking public access to surveillance footage of the riot and records about the Capitol's security measures, arguing that increased USCP transparency generally would be helpful in understanding Jan. 6 riot and in preventing similar attacks from happening in the future.

Musgrave also filed a separate lawsuit against the Senate Intelligence Committee and its chairman, Sen. Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, seeking to make public the panel's full torture report.

The American public only "had access to the redacted and heavily abridged Executive Summary version" of the torture report since its release in 2014, according to the file.

Whether the judges will be convinced by Musgrave's argument that the legislative branch has an implied legal obligation to disclose those materials remains unclear.

The lawsuits came amid ongoing investigation led by a House select committee into the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, during which a mob of former President Donald Trump's supporters breached the Capitol Complex, attempting to stop Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election results to Joe Biden.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Tuesday that GOP representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio and Jim Banks of Indiana could be targets of the Jan. 6 committee's investigation.

Staunchly supporting Trump, Jordan and Banks were House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy's picks to serve on the select committee, but their membership were vetoed by Pelosi, who claimed the pair were "outrageous" and "not serious."

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