Federal prosecutors say previously undisclosed Jan. 6 videos show a riotous mob forcibly breaching the U.S. Capitol and endangering the lives of all those inside, while defense attorneys contend that the footage reveals law enforcement facilitating the entrance of protestors.
Viewers can decide for themselves, since the videos are no longer secret.
The newly released evidence stems from the case of alleged Proud Boys member Ethan Nordean, who is accused of obstructing or impeding an official proceeding, among other crimes. Buzzfeed first published the videos on Oct. 18 following Judge Timothy Kelly’s order a week prior for them to be made publicly available.
The evidence consists of two 40-minute videos taken from cameras inside the Upper West Terrace—one camera pointed toward an outside door and the other surveilling an inside door.
Most of the initial action comes from the camera pointing toward the inside. Around 2:33 p.m., the camera reveals Jan. 6 participants already inside, with what appears to be a police officer holding the inner door open for people to enter and exit.
As an increasing number of Trump supporters enter the area, four additional police officers arrived on the scene around 2:36 p.m. The five officers moved toward the outside door around 2:42 p.m. to stop more people from entering.
The camera pointing toward the outside door captured what seem to be the most contentious moments, starting around 2:42 p.m., when some protestors appeared to be in a heated conversation with police as the number of people outside swelled.
Tensions eased for a moment when two women in winter parkas appeared from the inside and eased past both the officers and the protestors to exit the building. Less than a minute later, the police officers went back inside, followed by the crowd.
But by around 2:46 p.m., numerous other officers came from the chaotic outside, and law enforcement appeared to have the inside area back under their control.
According to defense attorney Dave Smith, his client, Nordean, entered the Capitol building between 2:37 and 2:38 p.m.—around the time footage showed a stream of Trump supporters filing between officers, before those officers attempted to stop additional people from entering.
“[The video] depicts Nordean passing through a Capitol Building entryway hall,” Smith said in his July 29 motion to make the footage public. “Two law enforcement officers stand aside as Nordean and others proceed into the building.”
The Department of Justice disagreed with Smith’s characterization.
“In actuality, the video as a whole depicts a riotous mob forcibly breaching the Capitol and endangering the lives of, among others, law enforcement who swore to protect the Capitol, the public servants who work there, and private citizens who, unlike Defendant, lawfully and peacefully petition the Legislative Branch,” the DOJ said in a July 29 response.
The DOJ filed another motion on Aug. 13, arguing that releasing the videos would compromise the security of the Capitol building. Prosecutors argued that the footage is particularly sensitive because it depicts the interior of Capitol Hill, revealing “information less likely to be obtained through other means.”
But on Sept. 9, a group of media outlets—including Buzzfeed, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal—filed its own brief in support of making the videos public. The outlets argued that government lacked justification for keeping the videos secret, given that footage from the exact same location had already been made public.
Prosecutors filed a notice on Oct. 8 that they no longer opposed the videos being made public. They didn’t say why they changed their position.
Judge Kelly’s Oct. 11 order is for government to remove the “sensitivity designation” of the footage in question, and to make the videos public via the court’s “drop box technical solution,” which allows credentialed media to view video exhibits.
Kelly’s decision follows a similar decision on Sept. 21, when U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ordered Jan. 6 footage to be made public in the case of defendant Eric Torrens.
Meanwhile, defense attorney Smith has also filed a motion for Nordean’s bail application to be reconsidered in light of a federal judge finding that the D.C. Department of Corrections violated the rights of Jan. 6 detainees.
Nordean is currently in a Seattle jail, but Smith said the government plans to transfer his client to the D.C. jail if his application for bail fails again.
Nordean faces up to 20 years imprisonment for obstructing or impeding an official proceeding. He was also charged with aiding and abetting, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison; as well as knowingly entering or remaining in restricted building or grounds, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, which each carry a maximum penalty of one year in prison.
A status hearing for this matter is scheduled for Oct. 26, with Nordean’s trial set for next May.