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CNN and NBC both paid $35,000 to left-wing activist for footage of fatal Capitol shooting

Chuck Ross, DCNF

A left-wing activist facing criminal charges for his involvement in the Capitol riots received $35,000 from both CNN and NBC for footage he recorded of a Trump supporter being fatally shot inside the Capitol building, according to records he filed in federal court on Tuesday.

Lawyers for John Sullivan, a 26-year-old Utah native, disclosed the payments as part of the activist’s argument that he was acting as a journalist in the Capitol rather than a rioter.

“Defendant is legitimately self-employed as a documentarian and it is oppressive to require that he not be allowed to continue his primary area of employment for an extended period of time,” Steven R. Kiersh, the Sullivan lawyer, wrote in a court filing in which he argued for Sullivan to be allowed to continue using Facebook and Twitter.

Sullivan, who founded the social justice group Insurgence USA, was charged on Jan. 13 with illegally entering the Capitol, civil disorder, and violent or disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Prosecutors cited video that Sullivan recorded inside the Capitol in which he called for burning down the building, while egging on others who had broken into the building.

“We accomplished this shit. We did this together. Fuck yeah! We are all a part of this history,” he said in a video cited by prosecutors.

“Let’s burn this shit down,” he also allegedly said.

Sullivan gained national attention over footage he recorded of Air Force veteran Ashli Babbit being fatally shot by a Capitol police officer while trying to enter a barricaded portion of the building. Babbit was at the Capitol with numerous other supporters of President Donald Trump who were protesting the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Four other people died during the riots, including Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick.

Sullivan’s lawyers filed invoices from CNN and NBC showing he was paid $35,000 for rights to air the footage. Sullivan also received $5,000 from a company called Left/Right Productions and $2,500 from Australia’s ABC, according to the records.

Sullivan appeared for an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper after the shooting, in which his footage was aired.

The federal magistrate judge overseeing Sullivan’s case ruled on Tuesday that he can continue using Facebook and Twitter, but that he must cut ties with Insurgence USA, according to Politico, which first reported the Sullivan court filing.

Sullivan faces federal charges in Utah stemming from an incident on June 30, 2020 in which a person was shot and injured during a protest against police brutality. Sullivan is charged with rioting and criminal mischief from that incident.

Sullivan has proved to be one of the more controversial of the dozens of riot-related arrests.

Conservatives have cited his presence at the riots as evidence that left-wing activists played a large role in instigating the Capitol breach. A Daily Caller News Foundation investigation found that Sullivan was the only person out of dozens charged in the riots to have clear links to a left-wing group.

Some within the Black Lives Matter movement have reportedly shunned Sullivan over his aggressive protesting tactics, according to profiles from the New Yorker and other news outlets.

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Founded by Tucker Carlson, a 25-year veteran of print and broadcast media, and Neil Patel, former chief policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, The Daily Caller News Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit providing original investigative reporting from a team of professional reporters that operates for the public benefit.

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