Trump calls for release of violent January 6 rioters after Fox News airing of footage

Palm Beach, Florida - Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday demanded the release of the imprisoned violent January 6 attackers after Fox News host Tucker Carlson aired previously unseen security footage from the storming of the Capitol.

Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday demanded the release of the imprisoned violent January 6 attackers.
Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday demanded the release of the imprisoned violent January 6 attackers.  © Collage: REUTERS

After Carlson aired cherry-picked clips of the insurrection attempt, Trump falsely said the film shows the attackers were wrongly convicted of their roles in the riot, including scores of attacks on police.

"Let the January 6 prisoners go," Trump wrote on his social media site. "They were convicted, or are awaiting trial, based on a giant lie, a radical left con job."

Falsely claiming the footage offers "irrefutable" defense of the attackers, Trump praised House Speaker Kevin McCarthy for giving Carlson exclusive access to some 44,000 hours of security footage of the attack.

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Carlson used the Monday episode of his popular Fox show to air video of Trump supporters walking calmly around the Capitol after overwhelming outnumbered cops. He planned to show more footage Tuesday night.

He falsely said the footage proved most of the rioters were mere peaceful protesters.

Extended footage shows rioters leading violent attacks

Violent Trump supporters attacked police and stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Violent Trump supporters attacked police and stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.  © Joseph Prezioso / AFP

Despite the outrageous claims by Trump and Carlson, none of the footage undercuts any of the criminal cases and convictions tied to the January 6, 2021, riot.

More than 1,000 people have been charged in connection with the Capitol attack, including many avowed far right-wing extremists and white nationalists.

Nearly 150 cops were attacked, and about 326 people have been charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding officers or employees, including 106 assaults that happened with deadly or dangerous weapons. About 60 people pleaded guilty to assaulting law enforcement.

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Many of the admitted attackers were caught on videotape beating police and spewing racist slurs in video clips that Carlson did not air, including some of the very same attackers who were shown acting peacefully at other times in the prolonged attack.

The rioters rampaged through the Capitol chanting "Hang Mike Pence," and "Where's Nancy (Pelosi)" after Trump angrily told them to "fight like hell" to keep him in power minutes earlier in a fiery speech.

Republican offers rare rebuke of Carlson's antics

Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has been criticized for giving Fox News host Tucker Carlson access to security footage of the attack.
Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has been criticized for giving Fox News host Tucker Carlson access to security footage of the attack.  © Anna Moneymaker / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Representative Bennie Thompson, the former chairman of the January 6 committee, called it a "dereliction of duty" for McCarthy to hand over the footage to Carlson, who has spent two years downplaying the seriousness of the effort to block the peaceful transfer of power to President Joe Biden.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer accused McCarthy and Carlson of cheerleading for another violent attack.

"Conduct like theirs is just asking for another Jan. 6 to happen," Schumer said.

Even some Republican lawmakers, who also had to run for their lives from the mob, decried the shameful effort to rewrite history.

"To somehow put that in the same category as a permitted peaceful protest is just a lie," said Senator Kevin Cramer.

Carlson took a particularly low pot shot at late Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died of a stroke caused by a blood clot after being sprayed with chemical irritant by attackers.

The Fox News host aired footage of a helmeted Sicknick after the attack, which he said somehow proves Sicknick was unharmed.

Capitol Police say Sicknick later returned to his office and collapsed, an account that Carlson's show did not even attempt to refute.

"Every time the pain of that day seems to have ebbed a bit, organizations like Fox rip our wounds wide open again," Sicknick's relatives said in a statement. "We are frankly sick of it."

Cover photo: Collage: REUTERS

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