US Capitol
© Alex Gakos/Shutterstock
US Capitol rally • January 6, 2021
Over the objection of Joe Biden's Justice Department, a lengthy video clip showing U.S. Capitol Police allowing hundreds of people into the building on the afternoon of January 6 has been released to the public.

In July, Ethan Nordean, an alleged Proud Boy member charged for various crimes now held in a Seattle jail awaiting trial, petitioned the court to remove the "highly sensitive" designation on surveillance video that recorded Nordean entering the building with permission by U.S. Capitol Police. A group called the Press Coalition, representing news organizations including CNN, the New York Times, and the three major broadcast news networks, filed a motion in September to intervene in Nordean's case and make the video footage public.

The full recording was posted on Twitter by BuzzFeed reporter Zoe Tillman this morning.

Capturing the activity in a small hallway on the upper west side terrace of the Capitol building, the clip runs from 2:25 p.m. until about 3:00 p.m. This is about ten minutes after Dominic Pezzola, another alleged Proud Boy, used a riot shield to smash a window and right after House and Senate chambers were evacuated.

At the start of the video, one officer held open the interior door that accesses the Capitol Rotunda, a space between the House and Senate wings. Five or six unidentified men exited the door and spoke to the officer before leaving. Those men held open the exterior double-doors, where protesters began filing into the building. Nordean's lawyer said his client is recorded entering the building, with the consent of police, between 2:37 p.m. and 2:38 p.m..

Capitol Police officers stood in the small hallway between the exterior and interior doors for the next few minutes; dozens of people entered as police did not attempt to stop them. At one point, several officers can be seen talking with a crowd of people attempting to come inside. One officer then pulled aside another officer speaking with the protesters — this appeared to be shortly after Ashli Babbitt was shot by Officer Michael Byrd outside the Speaker's lobby — and the officers retreated. Protesters followed the officers inside.

The recording confirms what Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) detailed in a letter to Yogananda Pittman, the former acting head of the Capitol Police, sent in June. Johnson, one of the few members of Congress with access to the secret recordings, estimated 309 protesters entered the building at the upper west terrace without resistance from Capitol Police.

The footage, a slice of the 14,000 hours of surveillance video that the Justice Department and Capitol Police want kept under strict protective orders, clearly contradicts many of the government's allegations about what happened on January 6. Hundreds of January 6 defendants have been charged with trespassing or "parading" in the Capitol when this video clearly proves law enforcement held open doors and did not stop protesters from coming inside.

Nordean is accused of "forcibly" entering the building; he faces two felony counts for conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding. He's been incarcerated since his arrest last February. His trial is set for May 2022.