Capitol Police chief slams Carlson’s comments about Jan. 6 video as ‘offensive and misleading’ in internal memo

Written by on March 7, 2023

Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — Chief Thomas Manger sent an internal memo to U.S. Capitol Police on Tuesday saying the commentary on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s program Monday night was “filled with offensive and misleading conclusions about the January 6 attack.”

The memo, obtained by ABC News, said “the opinion program never reached out to the Department to provide accurate context.”

“The program conveniently cherry-picked from the calmer moments of our 41,000 hours of video,” Manger wrote. “The commentary fails to provide context about the chaos and violence that happened before or during the less tense moments.”

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who brokered the deal with Carlson and his producers to view the video and choose which video they wanted to air, refused to take questions from ABC News on Tuesday when Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott pressed him on Carlson’s characterization of Jan. 6. Earlier, House Republicans tweeted out the video of Carlson’s segment, labeling it a “must watch.”

But as one Republican leader declined to take questions on his way into the Capitol — another Republican leader wasted no time addressing it.

Even before being asked by reporters, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell held up a printed copy of the Capitol Police internal memo on Tuesday afternoon.

“With regard to the presentation on Fox News last night, I want to associate myself entirely with the opinion of the Capitol Police about what happened on January 6,” McConnell said.

Asked if it were a mistake to give security footage to Carlson, McConnell said, “My concern is how it was depicted, which was a different issue. Clearly the chief of the Capitol Police, in my view, correctly describes what most of us witnessed firsthand on January 6. So, that’s my reaction to it. It was a mistake, in my view, for Fox News to depict this in a way that is completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official here at the Capitol thinks.”

Manger, who was sworn in in July 2021, told Capitol Police in the memo that television programs will not “record the truth for our history books” and added that “the truth and justice are on our side.” He didn’t mention Carlson by name in the letter, but it’s clear he’s referring to his programming.

Carlson on Monday aired what he claimed to be new surveillance videos from the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol in an effort to minimize the Capitol attack as a peaceful gathering and to discredit the work of the Jan. 6 committee and federal investigators.

In contrast to Carlson’s claims now, in the days right after Jan. 6, McCarthy said, “Let me be clear, last week’s violent attack on the Capitol was undemocratic, un-American, and criminal.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland, asked on Tuesday about Carlson’s program, said, “I think it’s very clear what happened on January 6.”

“I think all Americans saw what happened on January 6, and most of it saw most of us, saw it as it was happening,” Garland said at a news conference. “It was a violent attack on a fundamental tenant of American democracy — that power is peacefully transferred from one administration to another. Over 100 officers were assaulted on that day. Five officers died. We have charged more than 1000 people with their crimes on that day and more than 500 have already been convicted. I think it’s very clear what happened on January 6.”

Carlson and some House Republicans have been hyping the report up for weeks, but after viewing 40,000 hours of video given to him by McCarthy, he played on repeat only select scenes of the security camera footage.

Carlson defended “protesters” on Jan. 6, claiming they were “right” to “believe that the election they had just voted in had been unfairly conducted.” Notably, Carlson’s comments come on the heels of new court filings by Dominion Voting Systems in their lawsuit against Fox News that showed in mid-November 2020, Carlson texted one of his producers that “there wasn’t enough fraud to change the outcome” of the election.

Despite what he’s said in private, Carlson said on Monday that “taken as a whole, the video record does not support the claim that January 6 was an insurrection,” despite also showing familiar footage of rioters violently breaking into the Capitol.

“They were not insurrectionists,” he said. “They were sightseers.”

Carlson also selectively picked footage that showed protesters standing around inside the Capitol and argued it proved, “They’re not destroying the Capitol. They obviously revere the Capitol.” However, Carlson failed to mention that over a million dollars in damage were sustained during the attack on the Capitol.

There are multiple falsehoods, contortions and clear omissions in Carlson’s report.

One of which relates to Jacob Chansley, the self-described “Q-Anon Shaman” who infamously marched through the Capitol with a spear and horned helmet during the riot and who has been sentenced to 41 months in prison for his role in the attack.

Carlson questioned why the video he aired tonight of Chansley — which he said depicted Chansley being led through the Capitol by police — didn’t come out at trial. But the case never went to trial. Chansley pleaded guilty to one felony count of unlawfully obstructing an official proceeding.

“When greatly outnumbered during a violent demonstration, officers are trained to use a variety of techniques to prevent violent and destructive behavior including — when possible — engaging with those behaving non-violently and encouraging them to demonstrate peacefully or depart the location,” said ABC News Contributor John Cohen, a former acting undersecretary for intelligence at the Department of Homeland Security. “Especially if they viewed him as a potential agitator. Walking him away quietly from the crowd thereby reduces the likelihood he will incite violence.”

It’s not immediately clear whether Chansley’s defense attorneys, who were provided hours of footage showing his movements throughout the Capitol and other items of discovery in his case — were not able to access this video before he entered his guilty plea. An attorney for Chansley did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

ABC News has repeatedly asked for the footage McCarthy gave exclusively to Carlson and reached out to McCarthy’s office for his response to the misleading report after McCarthy condemned the Capitol attack on Jan. 6.

ABC News’ Alexander Mallin contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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