Speaker Johnson attempts to spread more Jan. 6 disinfo

Plus, a spotlight on his support for anti-LGBTQ causes, both past and present.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-AL) told reporters that his office obscured the profiles of those seen in Jan. 6 security camera footage who sought to overturn the 2020 election to protect them from potential prosecution. 

“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,” Johnson explained

The decision comes as he released tens of thousands of hours of new security camera footage from inside the U.S. Capitol during the insurrection attempt.

Johnson’s efforts to dilute the conversation around Jan. 6 are part of a broader project by the Republican communications apparatus to paint these efforts to subvert the democratic process as a witch hunt by the so-called liberal “regime.” Earlier this year, the speaker’s predecessor, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), had previously leaked footage from the Capitol riot to former Fox News host Tucker Carlson to achieve the same effect. 

Carlson proceeded to author multiple segments wherein he downplayed the destructive, organized attack meant to disrupt the verification of the 2020 presidential election. The disgraced conservative pundit said that the footage revealed that classifying the event as a “deadly insurrection” was slanderous. “Everything about that phrase is a lie,” Carlson proclaimed

“Very little about Jan. 6 was organized or violent. Surveillance video from inside the Capitol sh

Following Johnson’s maneuver last month, far-right leaders like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) immediately used it to spread misleading conspiracies about Jan. 6. On X (formerly known as Twitter) both made baseless posts asserting that federal law enforcement officers, disguised as MAGA acolytes, had instigated the riots. 

But Johnson’s dumping of nearly 40,000 hours of Capitol footage isn’t just about creating opportunities for misinformation. It was about consummating one of his promises to his colleagues while running for the speakership. 

“When I ran for this position, I made a promise to release the footage from Jan. 6, so Americans could see for themselves what happened that day, rather than the opinions of the partisan Jan. 6 Committee,” Johnson wrote in a fundraising email following his publishing of the footage. “And I am delivering on that promise.”

Yet such chum for his reactionary base didn’t stop there. Earlier this week, in another fundraising message acquired by Punchbowl News, Speaker Johnson wrote to constituents via the National Republican Congressional Committee email list that “our culture has fallen so far since the founding of our country, and it’s just getting worse,” and that he “[feared] America may be beyond redemption” because “1 in 4 high school students identifies as something other than straight….” 

None of this should come as a surprise: As the Daily Beast reported today, before joining Congress, Johnson’s work as a lawyer involved a steady stream of clients aligned with anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion causes. Some cases include ties to the murder of an abortion provider in 2009 and the attempted murder of a gay man in 2003. 

“Johnson was preoccupied with clients who reflected the same anti-gay and anti-abortion stances that he has held openly for decades,” a trio of Daily Beast reporters explained. 

“His clients’ embrace of violent rhetoric apparently did little to dissuade Johnson from taking their cases at the time, and the speaker did not avail himself of the opportunity now to denounce their actions, words, or involvement with the insurrection.” 

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Jamie Larson