Why Capitol Police offered tours to Oath Keeper lawyers

According to prosecutors, the plans for the tour have caused some turmoil because “the Capitol Police have banned taking photos during the tour”.

“While we are resolving these issues, I encourage you to register for appointments,” wrote US assistant attorney Kathryn Rakoczy in a letter to defense attorneys that was attached to the court record.

The Capitol Police declined to comment on the scheduled tours or photo restrictions.

Among the oath guards charged with violating the Capitol is a group of about 10 people who prosecutors claim formed a “pile” – a military maneuver to hold together when they hit the building in the midst of the crowd enter the larger crowd. Defense attorneys are likely to want to investigate the doors the defendants entered, as well as the hallways they allegedly passed through while participating in the injury. Members of the group dispersed after publicly available footage shortly after entering the building. Some headed towards the Senate Chamber, where then Vice President Mike Pence and the members were hastily evacuated just before the mob arrived and others moved around the rotunda.

The Oath Guards charged in the conspiracy say they are primarily in Washington to provide security to Trump supporters like Roger Stone, who attended Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally near the White House that morning . They say there was no plan to break through the Capitol and there is no evidence that they destroyed property or committed acts of violence. But prosecutors say their presence – as well as that of the Proud Boys, another group of violent extremists who sent dozens to the Capitol – was a major contributor to the mob’s ability to break the police lines and count the votes of the electoral college disturb.

Tourists have long had access to a subset of Capitol hallways – from the rotunda to the statue hall to the crypt – where they are free to snap photos and explore the art and architecture. But the areas around the chambers of the House and Senate, as well as the key areas on the third floor of the building that overlooks the chambers, have long banned photography and video.

Capitol Police have previously raised concerns that leaking surveillance footage or providing details of the building plan to defendants on Jan. 6 could pose a security risk. This has led prosecutors and defense lawyers to place a number of strict restrictions on the ability of defense lawyers to access evidence such as surveillance footage used in the prosecution of many Department of Justice cases.

Capitol Police’s chief attorney Thomas DiBiase said those who attacked the building that day should not be able to identify the locations of the key offices or the surveillance camera network in the building. The so-called protection order, which was put in place to guide cases of violations of the Capitol, allows the government to mark some evidence as “highly sensitive,” which requires strict restrictions on how defendants can see it and who else they can share it with.

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