Capitol Police Refuse to Hand Over Emails, Citing Immunity

Capitol Police Refuse to Hand Over Emails, Citing Immunity

( – The riots on Capitol Hill happened well over a year ago now, and there are still people sitting in jail over the events of that day with no end in sight. Judicial Watch, a conservative activist group, sued the US Capitol Police (USCP) as part of an effort seeking the release of more than 14,000 hours of video of the January 6 event and an undisclosed number of emails between authorities. The agency is refusing to hand either of them over, claiming sovereign immunity.

Judicial Watch Sues

On January 21, 2021, Judicial Watch submitted a records request to the USCP, asking to view the aforementioned video and emails. James Joyce, Senior Counsel for the USCP, emailed the group on February 11, 2021, denying access, claiming the information the group seeks isn’t public record.

Since Congress and the US Capitol Police, as a subset of Congress, are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Judicial Watch took another approach. On February 16, 2021, it filed a lawsuit, Judicial Watch v. United States Capitol Police, claiming it had the right to view the footage and emails under the common law right of access to public records.

In the lawsuit, the group requests access to:

  • Emails regarding the Capitol’s security between the Capitol Police Board (CPB) and the USCP Executive Team between January 1 and 10, 2021
  • Emails regarding the Capitol’s security between the CPB and the FBI, DOJ, and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the same dates
  • Internal video footage from the Capitol between 12 p.m. and 9 p.m. on January 6, 2021


The main reason Judicial Watch is seeking this information is it could potentially aid those facing charges stemming from the riots. Many have yet to undergo actual trials, and the video footage, as well as emails between the agencies, could provide some measure of defense proving whether or not the suspects entered the Capitol or participated in violence outside the doors.

As of this article’s writing, the case is still making its way through the District of Columbia District Court. Most recently, attorneys for the USCP filed a motion on March 4, 2022, restating its claim to sovereign immunity.

In the absence of a court order, the USCP continues to refuse to turn over the requested information to Judicial Watch.

If there’s nothing to hide and the videos and emails happen to provide some clarity to the events of that day, what does the USCP have to hide?

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