In the days after the Jan. 6 incursion into the Capitol, an oft-discussed theory on both the right and the left was that members of Capitol Hill police permitted the protesters to enter the building as the 2020 electoral votes were being certified by a joint session of the U.S. Congress within.
While there is not necessarily any strong evidence that a coordinated effort took place to facilitate the invasion (although there’s ample evidence that far from enough was done to prevent it ahead of time), the Department of Justice has now admitted that it possesses footage of Capitol Hill police officers “fist-bumping” and posing for pictures with the protesters.
It’s just not prepared to hand it over to attorneys representing those who are facing trial for the role they played in the incursion.
The reason? The department has just got way too much footage to sort through before it can be bothered to provide such potentially exculpatory evidence to the defense.
According to DOJ court filings this week in the case against “Cowboys for Trump” founder and New Mexico county commissioner Couy Griffin, the department just has way too much to go through before it can determine if it possesses the evidence that could help his case, but the DOJ is aware that it does exist.
Griffin has been charged with knowingly entering restricted grounds without lawful entry for allegedly entering the Capitol building with the protesters on Jan. 6. He has pled not guilty and been offered a confidential plea bargain, according to The Associated Press.
The Washington Examiner reported that DOJ prosecutors told the court that despite their “diligent efforts,” they are not “currently in a position” to identify any evidence in their possession that could be useful to the defense.
They argued that they do not know Griffin’s attorney’s “theory of defense” and that any “relevant evidence may be interspersed among voluminous data that we cannot possibly review in its entirety.”
They are also not prepared to turn the evidence over for the defense to review, either.
Is the DOJ treating the Jan. 6 defendants unfairly?
This is where it gets really crazy, however, as prosecutors confirmed that they know they likely have the evidence that the defense would find desirable.
“Although we are aware that we possess some information that the defense may view as supportive of arguments that law enforcement authorized defendants (including Defendant) to enter the restricted grounds, e.g., images of officers hugging or fist-bumping rioters, posing for photos with rioters, and moving bike racks, we are not in a position to state whether we have identified all such information,” prosecutors stated.
The DOJ did firmly refute claims on the part of the defense that this was “being contrived by the United States as part of a strategy to determine which cases are tried first” or that the “United States purportedly lacks the resources to try such cases.”
Still, the prosecution acknowledged that there is footage indicating that members of Capitol Hill Police “allowed people to enter or remain in the Capitol or on restricted grounds, acted friendly or sympathetic to the rioters, or otherwise failed to do their jobs” which could be useful to the defense, but that “to the extent the type of information described above may exist, it may be interspersed among thousands of hours of video footage from multiple sources.”
In other words, sure, there might be videos out there showing law enforcement officers letting protesters into a restricted area, but there’s just way too much footage to figure out if it for sure exists at this time.
The DOJ did claim to have a goal to upload all the evidence into the “discovery production database” in the next four to six weeks. So there’s that.
The existence of footage showing a friendly demeanor displayed by members of law enforcement toward the protesters on Jan. 6 kind of seems like incredibly vital information to the 565 American citizens who have been charged for actions they took at the Capitol building that day.
You don’t have to approve of what a single one of these people did on that day to recognize this. The fact remains that they are not political prisoners in a despotic republic, nor should they be treated like it.
However, this is exactly what is happening. We’ve heard bone-chilling and fundamentally un-American accounts of the manner in which those being kept in pre-trial imprisonment are treated, from being kept in solitary confinement 23 hours out of the day to being given only limited access to their own legal counsel.
Now we learn that the government is actually admitting it has evidence that could be completely game-changing to the case brought against these political prisoners, and it can’t be bothered to hand it over to the defense as legally required?
What happened at the Capitol building on Jan. 6 and the manner in which the protesters were treated by law enforcement matters to a jury and their defense attorneys have a right to see what the prosecution has.
We already know that Capitol Police received ample warning of just such a threat, and yet denied assistance from the National Guard and the FBI.
We already know the footage exists that shows Capitol Police waved people through barriers. We already know the footage exists of members of the department reasoning calmly with the protesters once they were in the building.
Yet the protesters — who undeniably broke laws when they entered the building — have been vilified by the media and lawmakers.
And still none of them have been charged with treason or sedition — which is a blessed relief, considering how unfairly they’re being treated in every other respect.
Nothing appears to have happened that day that was very different than the average law-breaking protest, that is, if you’re being very, very generous to contemporary trends in “mostly peaceful” protesting.
“This statement is striking. Although the government represents that it already possesses ‘some’ arguably Brady material with respect to Griffin, that information has not yet been produced to the defense,” said Griffin’s attorney, David Smith, of the DOJ filing.
“The Court will notice that the government could simply produce to Griffin all of the potential Brady in its possession now, but that it is electing not to do so until the discovery team chooses to make the disclosures ‘on a larger scale.’”
“The Court should direct the government to produce this material now,” he stated.
Well, it sounds like the DOJ may have its back up against a wall in this regard. At least we can hope this is the case.
The prosecutors also noted that Smith is not alone and that “multiple defense counsel have inquired about investigations into officers who were alleged to have been complicit in the January 6 Capitol Breach.”
The department stated that it had “received copies of investigations into officer conduct, have finished reviewing them, and plan to disclose the relevant materials shortly.”
This is kind of a big deal.
Will we finally find out the full truth about what went down that day?