House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) met with former President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate over the weekend in what some see as a positive development ahead of the 2024 election.
“The meeting, which took place at a fundraiser for Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., marked the first time the two have met in person since Johnson was elected on Oct. 25,” ABC News reported, noting that the get-together was first reported by Punchbowl News. Earlier this month, during an interview with CNBC, Johnson said he was “all in for President Trump” in 2024.
ABC News adds: “The meeting between the highest elected Republican in the nation and the leading GOP presidential contender comes as Johnson is adjusting to his speakership after a fractious, weekslong battle among Republicans following McCarthy’s ouster in early October. As speaker, Johnson helped pass a short-term government funding bill earlier this month that didn’t include steep spending cuts — similar to the kind of legislation that led GOP hard-liners to remove McCarthy — and Johnson faces the same challenges running the House, though he is seen as more economically and socially conservative. Johnson’s meeting at Mar-a-Lago further underscores Trump’s continued sway with conservatives, even as he faces an unprecedented four criminal cases, all of which he denies.”
Earlier this month, Johnson stuck by a promise he made to release nearly all of the video surveillance footage from the day of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol Building.
“When I ran for Speaker, I promised to make accessible to the American people the 44,000 hours of video from Capitol Hill security taken on January 6, 2021. Truth and transparency are critical. Today, we will begin immediately posting video on a public website and move as quickly as possible to add to the website nearly all of the footage, more than 40,000 hours,” Johnson noted in an X post.
“In the meantime, a public viewing room will ensure that every citizen can view every minute of the videos uncensored,” he continued.
The faces of private citizens will be blurred to ensure that no one is “targeted for retaliation of any kind,” his office noted, per the UK’s Daily Mail. He added that about 5 percent of the footage would not be released to protect sensitive security information.
“I commend Chairman Loudermilk and his team for their diligent work to ensure the thousands of hours of videos are promptly processed to be uploaded to the committee’s public website,” Johnson noted further on the X platform.
“Processing will involve blurring the faces of private citizens on the yet unreleased tapes to avoid any persons from being targeted for retaliation of any kind and segregating an estimated 5% of the videos that may involve sensitive security information related to the building architecture,” he said.
Not long afterward, some 90 hours of video were released. The footage may be accessed and viewed here.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who led the effort to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and has been behind the effort to get all of the video footage released, praised Johnson for his decision.
“You won’t always agree with @SpeakerJohnson – but know this: HE WON’T LIE. If he says he is going to do something, he is going to do it. Thank you for keeping your word on the J6 tapes, Mr. Speaker. It is a refreshing thing in the Swamp of DC,” he tweeted.
“Doing what he said he would do. Good,” Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, added on X.
Earlier in the year, while he was still Speaker, McCarthy released some footage to then-Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
Shortly afterward, several media organizations sent House leadership a letter demanding equal access to the footage.