Trump Praises Speaker Johnson’s Release Of J6 Tapes Fueling Far-Right Conspiracies


Former President Donald Trump congratulated House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) for releasing new footage last week of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, predicting the tapes will “vindicate hundreds of J6 political prisoners”—a declaration that furthers a fraught far-right narrative that the footage proves Trump supporters were wrongly blamed for the violence.

Key Facts

Trump, in a video posted to Truth Social on Tuesday, said the 40,000-some hours of footage Johnson plans to make public will “reveal completely what really happened on January 6,” while thanking Johnson and telling him he did a “great job.”

Johnson on Friday published the first tranche, about 90 hours, of new surveillance footage taken from inside the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riots, and Trump supporters quickly used the tapes to push a conspiracy that law enforcement officers orchestrated the insurrection in order to distract from election fraud.

Trump’s video follows his meeting with Johnson at Mar-A-Lago on Monday—the first since he was elected speaker last month, multiple outlets reported.

Big Number

1,069. That’s the number of defendants charged for their alleged participation in the Jan. 6 attacks as of July, according to the Justice Department.

Key Background

Johnson has been a meaningful, but relatively under-the-radar ally, to Trump since he was first elected president. Johnson served on the congressional defense team for Trump during his first impeachment trial. In the lead-up to Jan. 6, Johnson, a former constitutional lawyer, helped devise a theory dozens of Trump’s backers in Congress used to contest the results of the 2020 presidential election by claiming the results were invalid because some states had made unconstitutional pandemic-era changes to their election laws. Johnson endorsed Trump for president last week, hours after the New York Times reported Johnson had sharply denounced Trump’s character and fitness to serve during his first campaign for president.

News Peg

Johnson released the footage as part of a promise he made to the far-right to win their support in his campaign for speaker. Hard-right lawmakers and personalities took to social media to amplify their claims that the footage absolved Trump supporters of guilt on Jan. 6. In one widely-shared clip, convicted insurrectionist Kevin Lyons is seen making a slight gesture as he passes through a security checkpoint, revealing an unidentifiable object in his hand. Right-wing social media users, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), claimed, without evidence, the object was a law enforcement badge, and said the video proved the debunked theory that law enforcement coordinated the insurrection. Federal law enforcement officials have repeatedly said there is no evidence to support the claim.

What To Watch For

The remainder of the 44,000 hours of Jan. 6 footage are expected to be released in the coming months, according to the Associated Press.

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