Videos used as evidence in Trump impeachment trial gathered from Parler by anonymous ‘hacktivist’

'I knew what was there, but it seemed that nobody else could see the value'

James Crump
Thursday 11 February 2021 18:52 GMT
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An anonymous computer programmer gathered many of the videos used as evidence on the second day of former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial by downloading footage from Parler before the service was taken down.

Parler, which was preferred by Trump supporters, was effectively shut down after Amazon Web Services pulled hosting support for the app a few days after a mob of pro-Trump supporters filmed themselves breaching the US Capitol on 6 January and posting support for the siege.

Five people died and several more were injured in the insurrection. A week later, and a week before leaving office, Mr Trump was impeached by the House for the second time for inciting the riots at a “Save America” rally nearby.

House impeachment managers aired never-before-seen footage from the siege at the Capitol during Mr Trump's impeachment trial on Wednesday, showing lawmakers being evacuated away from the pro-Trump mob.

Read more: Follow live updates from Trump's impeachment trial

Several senators were visibly emotional while watching the footage throughout the day, as President Joe Biden claimed on Thursday that "minds may have been changed" by the videos.

CNN reported that many of the footage used as evidence on Wednesday were gathered by an anonymous computer programmer who uses the name “Crash override” and the Twitter handle @donk_enby.

When the programmer realised that Parler would have been full of videos of rioters breaching the Capitol, she began downloading footage before the service went fully offline.

She gathered in total 30,000 gigabytes before Parler was shut down, telling CNN: “I had an efficient way to download it all. I knew what was there, but it seemed that nobody else could see the value.”

After gathering the hundreds of videos, ProPublica published them to a database on its website. The programmer said that although she calls herself a “hacktivist”, she wanted to clarify that “everything I archived was publicly accessible.”

After seeing a lot of the footage she downloaded get used during the impeachment trial on Wednesday, the programmer said: “I hope it inspires more people with similar skills to mine to use those skills for good.”

Mr Trump’s Senate impeachment trial began on 9 February and is expected to continue for around a couple of weeks. If he is convicted, then Mr Trump could be barred from running for president again.

In order to secure a conviction, 17 Senate Republicans would have to vote against Mr Trump. Only six Republican senators voted to proceed with the trial on Tuesday.

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