Who Let Capitol Protesters Into the Building on January 6?

Judge Amit Mehta thinks no one let protesters into the Capitol building on January 6.

During a pre-trial detention hearing on Friday—Joe Biden’s Justice Department continues to demand jail time for nonviolent offenders before their trials even begin—the D.C. District Court judge made that false claim. “No one was let in,” the Obama appointee told the lawyer representing Jason Dolan, an alleged Oath Keeper and former U.S. Marine with no criminal record. (Mehta denied the government’s motion for detention but admitted it was a “close call.”)

Mehta, of course, is flat wrong. Videos taken by people at the Capitol not only show some U.S. Capitol Police officers ushering protesters toward the building and allowing them to enter but, as American Greatness exclusively reported last month, USCP officers also cautioned several protesters how they should behave.

In fact, in an anonymous interview with the Gateway Pundit in May, Dolan himself described how someone inside the Capitol opened the doors. (Dolan was arrested three days after the interview was posted.) The Justice Department, in a motion to keep Dolan incarcerated awaiting trial, called his story a “conspiracy theory.”

Thousands of Hours of Video Unseen

In Mehta’s defense, he only has access to cherry-picked video evidence provided by the Justice Department, which is keeping more than 14,000 hours of surveillance footage captured by the USCP security system under seal by insisting the recordings are “highly sensitive” government material. Judges, defense attorneys, and Capitol defendants are at the mercy of whatever damning clips federal prosecutors produce for any given case.

A select group of lawmakers, however, is authorized to view the raw footage: Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is one of them. As ranking member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Johnson has directed his staff to closely examine the recordings to get a detailed account of what happened that day. 

“We’re going to look at relevant sections, trying to identify points of conflict and egress,” Johnson told me by phone on Friday. “I want a general, overall sense of the full spectrum of behavior in and around the Capitol.”

Johnson’s office already has flagged a slice of footage that may seriously undermine the accepted narrative—perpetuated by federal judges in court hearings and nearly everyone else—that “insurrectionists” broke into the building without permission.

In a letter to acting U.S. Capitol Police chief Yogananda Pittman last week, Johnson zeroed in on the suspicious activity of several individuals around 2:30 p.m.—right before more than 300 protesters entered the building through doors on the upper west terrace. Moments before, according to Johnson’s letter, an “unauthorized” person tried unsuccessfully to open a set of double doors.

Five people returned to the double doors shortly thereafter and walked past a USCP officer. “The security footage, which did not include audio, appeared to show the police officer gesturing toward the doors as these individuals walked past him. Once at the double doors, one of the five individuals pushed the left door’s crash bar and this time, it opened. All five individuals exited the building at approximately 2:33 p.m.”

But the last person to leave left the door ajar, “allowing people from the outside of the building to gain entry into the Capitol. At 2:34 p.m., as people began to enter through this door, the police officer who was in the vicinity of this door one minute earlier, walked into another hallway away from this door and out of the view of the security camera.” For nearly 15 minutes, Johnson estimates, 309 people entered the Capitol building while law enforcement did little to stop them.

The video in question also captured the moment a USCP officer shot and killed Ashli Babbitt, an unarmed female Air Force veteran. 

“[A]round the time that Ashli Babbitt was shot, security footage showed one of the five police officers at this upper west terrace doorway looking over his shoulder toward the interior of the Capitol building. At that point, this officer appeared to say something to another officer standing in front of him. Both officers, followed by their three other colleagues, appeared to slowly retreat from the doorway, allowing a surge of people to, once again, enter the building.”

Johnson also requested access to any incident reports or transcribed interviews with the officers present at the upper west terrace; if none exist, the senator wants to bring the officers in for interviews. He also asked how an inside door locked at 2:26 p.m. was unlocked in the presence of at least one USCP officer seven minutes later.

Pushing Back on the Narrative

So, who were the mystery men? If they were “unauthorized,” the individuals couldn’t have been congressional staffers or USCP officers. (Or could they be?) Were they the paid agitators many people on the ground that day continue to insist provoked the siege? 

Unlike most of his Republican colleagues, Johnson, who has not yet announced whether he will run for reelection next year, thankfully is pushing back on some of the central claims about January 6. During a Senate Homeland Security Committee meeting in February, Johnson raised the idea that bad actors, not Trump supporters, stoked the violence. He read aloud a detailed account by J. Michael Waller published in The Federalist that described organized groups of agitators initiating the violence and mayhem. The idea there were “groups of provocateurs and agitators also is holding up,” Johnson said to me.

Johnson correctly concludes the protest was not an “armed insurrection” since no handguns were found at the scene; FBI Director Chris Wray last week confirmed Johnson’s statement in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. “You don’t hear too many people calling it an ‘armed insurrection’ anymore. They dropped the ‘armed’ part,” he told me.

“Unequal Administration of Justice”

By contradicting the groupthink on January 6, Johnson is taking fire from the usual suspects while most of his Senate colleagues remain silent. “It is amazing the attacks we’re enduring for honestly talking about this,” Johnson said. “There is a rich and complex story to what happened on January 6, and lots of people with lots of motivations. We are trying to get answers.”

Johnson also wants answers from Attorney General Merrick Garland, who promised to make the Capitol breach probe his top priority and compared January 6 to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Joined by only four other Republican senators, Johnson authored a June 7 letter to Garland regarding his department’s “unequal administration of justice with respect to certain protestors.”

The letter detailed the discrepancies between how the Justice Department is treating January 6 protesters versus those involved in the “2020 unrest” associated with George Floyd protests over the summer. Picking up on American Greatness’ reporting over the past few months that has exposed the harsh treatment of January 6 defendants in a D.C. prison, the senators asked if any 2020 protesters were denied bail and placed in solitary confinement.

During an interview aired Sunday night, Mark Levin asked Johnson why only five senators signed the letter to Garland. “Why isn’t all of the United States Senate concerned about this?”

Great question. Unfortunately, we know the answer.

 

About Julie Kelly

Julie Kelly is a political commentator and senior contributor to American Greatness. She is the author of Disloyal Opposition: How the NeverTrump Right Tried―And Failed―To Take Down the President. Her past work can be found at The Federalist and National Review. She also has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and Genetic Literacy Project. She is the co-host of ‘Happy Hour podcast with Julie and Liz.’ She is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University and lives in suburban Chicago with her husband and two daughters.

Photo: Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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