October 04, 2023
A screenshot of video capturing Special Agent David Lazarus arriving at the bottom of the Rotunda stairs, where he claims to have witnessed a confrontation between Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn and members of the Oath Keepers. The encounter had ended minutes before Lazarus arrived.
The Capitol Police officer assigned to the protective detail of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on January 6, 2021, appears to have given false testimony about his whereabouts during a key encounter with members of the Oath Keepers, according to an examination of Capitol closed-circuit TV video obtained by Blaze Media.
This is the beginning of a series analyzing video evidence recently made available to the public. The full release of the videos was delayed Tuesday by the House vote to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)
Democracy on trial
One of the most important federal trials in America in 2022 was barely a blip on the average U.S. citizen’s radar. The first of three January 6 trials bringing seditious conspiracy charges against members of a quasi-militia group known as the Oath Keepers began in late September and concluded in late November of last year.
For each of these trials, the U.S. Justice Department brought out its big guns. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nestler’s opening statement threw down the gauntlet, declaring five Oath Keepers were “the leaders” of the “insurrection.” The Oath Keeper trials were a central part of the overarching case made by the Biden administration and Democratic Party leaders to the American people that the protests on January 6, 2021, were a premeditated attack on democracy itself.
The Oath Keepers, with more than 35,000 dues-paying members, had more than a decade’s worth of a spotless record, providing disaster relief and security services during riots and other large events. They had never once been accused or charged with a crime in thousands of operations.
As we will reveal in this and subsequent reports, the Justice Department, FBI, and elements of the Capitol Police leadership appeared to leave nothing to chance.
Not that extreme measures would be necessary before D.C. juries, which have consistently found January 6 defendants guilty. But the weaponized Department of Justice now only plays for “wins,” not “justice.” Federal prosecutors were looking for notches in their career advancement gun belts, and FBI agents were eligible for cash bonuses in what was to be the largest criminal dragnet in U.S. history.
Ultimately, it was “mission accomplished” for Nestler and his team in their first marquee January 6 outing. Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was found guilty of seditious conspiracy and sentenced to 18 years in federal prison. Kelly Meggs was also found guilty of seditious conspiracy and received a 12-year sentence. Jessica Watkins was acquitted of seditious conspiracy but found guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and interfering with police and sentenced to eight and a half years. Kenneth Harrelson received four years for obstructing an official proceeding, interfering with police, and tampering with documents or proceedings.
After a victory so important to the regime, none other than U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland showed up to toast the victors after the verdicts were read. As reported by Politico Playbook:
SPOTTED: Merrick Garland stopping in at Oyamel to congratulate the DOJ’s Oath Keepers trial team, which had decamped to the Jose Andres Mexican restaurant in Penn Quarter to celebrate after jury verdicts in the high stakes case were handed down on Tuesday.
To prove that the Oath Keepers were seditionists intent on overthrowing the U.S. government and preventing the execution of the laws, federal prosecutors claimed that while inside the Capitol, members of the group were involved in a contentious interaction with law enforcement. The incident supposedly took place in an unmistakable public area: at the top of the stairs next to the Capitol Rotunda, also known as the small or mini rotunda or the Speaker’s Lobby.
Yet despite the fact that there were at least 1,700 cameras in and around the building and grounds and 41,000 hours of footage, many of which directly covered this well-traveled area, no direct video evidence of the alleged confrontation from CCTV was ever presented to the jury.
Much of the video footage has been kept from the public defenders no less than from the public itself.
At trial, this key piece of evidence purportedly proving the seditious intent of the Oath Keepers was based on the accounts of two law enforcement officers.
U.S. Capitol Police Special Agent David Lazarus, a member of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s security detail, testified that he passed by USCP Officer Harry Dunn engaging with four Oath Keepers “three or four times” while he was evacuating staffers for Pelosi who were trapped in a locked office in her chambers.
Lazarus went on to explain that he observed Dunn “arguing” with rioters and that during that exchange, he eventually found an opening through the rioters and was able to rescue “11 or 12” of Pelosi’s staffers. During his sworn testimony, Lazarus went into great detail about the problems he had getting through the crowd of rioters gathered at the top of the stairwell where Dunn was having what became a much-publicized interchange with the Oath Keepers.
Lazarus explained that one rioter asked, “Who are you? Who are you?” Then, according to the trial transcript, he testified:
And, you know, one attempted to — I had my lanyard on with my ID on it. And one — they were videotaping, and one attempted to pull at my ID. And I kind of, like, grabbed it back and looked, made sure it was still there. And then I saw an opening. So then I just kind of, like, walked fast to get into the office and then check on the staff again.
Lazarus’ detailed description of what took place — what Lazarus described as “very antagonistic” in the “three or four times” he passed by — was a dramatic moment in the trial.
“Every time I interacted or came by, yes, it was antagonistic,” explained Lazarus under direct questioning by Assistant United States Attorney Alexandra Hughes.
Lazarus was even shown a short cellphone video clip of the four Oath Keepers standing in front of Dunn:
Hughes: And are these the individuals you observed, the antagonistic conversation?
Hughes: At any point in these three or four interactions in this space, did you observe any sort of — anything but an antagonistic conversation?
Lazarus: That’s correct.
The problem with Lazarus’ testimony about this significant event is that, according to direct video evidence the jury never saw, it never happened.
The tale of the tape
Three Blaze Media employees, including this writer, and a House Oversight Committee staffer recently examined the U.S. Capitol CCTV video, which appears to prove conclusively that Special Agent Lazarus was not in that part of the Capitol Building at the time he claimed but was in fact in the lower tunnels that lead to the Senate office buildings, escorting senators away from the Capitol.
By analyzing the footage from multiple CCTV cameras and comparing the timelines associated with Officer Dunn’s actual interaction on camera with the Oath Keepers, it is clear that Lazarus did not arrive at the bottom of the staircase until three and a half minutes after the last of the Oath Keepers had left the area and were exiting the Capitol Building. Lazarus emerged from the top of the stairwell just after 3:05 p.m., after tactical units from the ATF and D.C. Metro Police had completely cleared the top of that staircase, the Speaker’s Lobby, and the speaker’s offices of all protesters.
In the absence of video evidence at trial, Lazarus’ testimony served as verification by a trustworthy law enforcement official of Dunn’s account to the jury of his interaction with the Oath Keepers.
But even without consulting the new video evidence, both men are on record offering conflicting accounts of the circumstances in which they supposedly encountered each other at the top of the Rotunda staircase.
Lazarus claimed he saw Dunn involved in a conflict with the Oath Keepers as Lazarus came up the stairs. Dunn claims the opposite: that he saw Lazarus involved in a conflict as Dunn came up the stairs.
Blaze Media has acquired an advance copy of Dunn’s forthcoming book, “Standing My Ground: A Capitol Police Officer’s Fight for Accountability and Good Trouble After January 6th,” scheduled for release on October 24. On pages 79 and 80, Dunn describes his first encounter of the day with Lazarus:
I took off, running up a winding spiral staircase toward the Speaker’s Lobby. … Now I was on the same floor as the Rotunda. … As soon as I made it to the landing, I saw Special Agent David Lazarus. … He was being hassled by some rioters.
Apparently, neither Dunn’s ghostwriter nor his editor checked the Oath Keepers trial transcript, in which Lazarus claims to recount the same moment in time:
Hughes: How was your evacuation efforts? How did you interact with this space? Where were you going in relation to what we’re looking at now?
Lazarus: So I came up from the first level, and I came up the stairs behind Dunn. And as I’m coming up, I could see Dunn above me as I was coming up the stairs. And I look and I see him standing there. And this crowd is, like, right in front of him.
Dunn claims to have first seen Lazarus already at the top of the staircase being “hassled by rioters” when he arrived. Lazarus testified that Dunn was “above me,” already at the top of the staircase when he arrived.
The man who wasn’t there
Capitol CCTV reveals that Dunn reached the top of the staircase landing at exactly 2:44 p.m. Dunn could not have seen Lazarus there, as Lazarus is clearly identifiable on video in the tunnels near the Senate office buildings at the same time. And Lazarus could not have seen Dunn interacting with the Oath Keepers “three or four times” in a “very antagonistic” encounter, because Lazarus did not arrive at that staircase until 2:56:45 p.m. The last Oath Keeper left 2:53:30. Again, Lazarus arrives well over three minutes after the Oath Keepers had departed the area.
In Lazarus’ own trial testimony, he claimed he was not present when video footage shows that Dunn was actually at the top of the stairs. This important element of Lazarus’ testimony was missed not only by all eight of the Oath Keepers’ defense lawyers but also by the journalists reporting on the trial from the first-floor media room in the courthouse.
Lazarus truthfully testified that he had been escorting U.S. senators through the tunnels to the Senate office buildings.
Hughes: So as you’re going into the tunnels, are you with the United States senators at this time?
Lazarus: Yes. We evacuate the entire Senate down the back stairs into the tunnels. And those tunnels go across Constitution Avenue back into the Senate buildings, where we had an area that was specifically set up to secure the Senate.
Hughes: Did you remain at this location?
Lazarus: No. Once we started moving through the tunnels, I heard “shots fired.” And so once I heard the shots were fired, I saw that the senators were doing okay, we had enough agents with them to get them to safety, so I turned around and I started going back towards where I heard the shots were being fired.
The report of “shots fired” was heard on the USCP Main Ops 1 radio channel at 2:44 p.m. This was in response to the single shot USCP Lt. Michael Byrd fired that killed protester Ashli Babbitt. This is what Lazarus heard, according to the USCP radio communications obtained in January by the Epoch Times:
Dispatcher: There were shots fired at the House floor. I need units to respond. They’re taking shots into the House floor. We need units to respond to that location. 1443 hours.
Lazarus testified under oath — verified by Capitol CCTV — that he was “moving through the tunnels” when he heard that shots were fired. “1443 hours” would be 2:43 p.m.
Dunn reached the top of those stairs, adjacent to the Capitol’s Rotunda, at exactly 2:44 p.m., and Oath Keeper Ken Harrelson entered that same area only 30 seconds later. Those times are also verified by the Capitol CCTV timecode.
Lazarus did not arrive back from the tunnels and reach the bottom of the Rotunda staircase until 2:56:45 p.m. This was approximately five minutes after Dunn had been relieved of his position at the top of those stairs by USCP Civil Disturbance officers and over three minutes after the Oath Keepers had already exited the area.
This is only the beginning of our unraveling of the many manipulations of space and time given in trial testimonies to convict the Oath Keepers. An analysis of Capitol CCTV footage also reveals there are more factual inaccuracies in testimonies given under oath before the House Select Committee on January 6.
Our finding is but one more example of why the 41,000 hours of Capitol CCTV video should be fully released to the public. Blaze Media submitted requests for these video clips under the new guidelines issued in September by the House Oversight Committee. We have the Capitol camera numbers and timecodes for several stories and will release more video in time.
The Oath Keepers’ defense teams missed these key contradictions in the trial. They filed motions for continuances for their respective clients, but given the overwhelming amount of video discovery involved, they simply lacked the time and resources for a thorough review.
The Justice Department and FBI did have the access, time, and resources to prepare and review all this video, yet in their pretrial witness preparations, they crafted a version of events to present to the jury that does not seem to have taken place — a version of events that does not seem possible.
Did the special agent assigned to the protection of Nancy Pelosi commit perjury, lying under oath to bolster a narrative against the defendants? If so, why — and who put him up to it?
What manner of interaction did Officer Harry Dunn really have with the Oath Keepers?
We will be investigating these questions, and many more, in the days and weeks to come.