Leftist Videographer John Sullivan Was Paid by Major Media Organizations for Footage of the Capitol Unrest

Utah County Jail

John Sullivan, videographer and founder of Insurgence USA, sees himself as a self-styled revolutionary and social justice warrior. It was this mindset that led him to pose as a “journalist” and embed himself into the January 6 Capitol Hill violence. Sullivan filmed the shooting death of Trump supporter Ashli Babbit by a Capitol Police officer, then dined out on that notoriety with an appearance on CNN and InfoWARS, before being arrested on a series of charges centered around violence in Sullivan’s home state of Utah, as well as what occurred at the Capitol.


According to the Insurgence USA website, Sullivan thinks his videos are meant,

“to provide you the truth. We are on the frontlines, giving you unedited raw footage, photos, and news of the insurrection here in America. Revealing the truth about Antifa and BLM’s communist plans to overthrow democracy. Exposing the sinister motives of Proud Boys and Right-Wing militias as they plot to topple the government.”

My colleague Nick Arama has unraveled Sullivan’s background and discovered his penchant for inciting violence, and just how extensively he was involved in the Capitol unrest.

As Arama documented here, and here, there were various shades of political leanings and individuals involved in the unrest. The fact that John Sullivan is an admitted leftist confirms this fact.

Jerry Dunleavy at Washington Examiner has now revealed that Sullivan was being paid for his raw footage of the calamitous events.

A self-styled leftist activist and Insurgence USA leader disavowed by Black Lives Matter leaders said he was paid tens of thousands of dollars by major media outlets who wanted to use the video footage he shot at the Capitol Building as he encouraged the mob during the siege on Jan. 6.

John Sullivan was indicted in early February for a host of crimes, including two felonies related to obstruction during Congress’s efforts to count and certify President Biden’s Electoral College victory over former President Donald Trump.

Video taken by the 25-year-old showed him following and encouraging the Trump supporters from the entrance of the Capitol all the way to the moment when 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran and Trump supporter who attempted to climb through a window into the Speaker’s Lobby, was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer.

In arguing he was a journalist and not an agent provocateur, Sullivan’s lawyer, Steven Kiersh, submitted four invoices purportedly from major broadcasters, revealing a $35,000 payment to Sullivan from CNN for video license usage spanning from Jan. 6 through Jan. 13, a $35,000 payment from NBC Universal Media dated Jan. 27, a $5,000 undated payment for “footage of the siege of the Capitol” citing his Twitter page to be used on Showtime’s The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth, and a $2,375 payment from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation dated Jan. 27.


Sullivan used BLM and Antifa hashtags to embed himself within these organization’s protests. According to the Washington Examiner, a leader of BLM’s Utah chapter, Lex Scott, described Sullivan as a “loose cannon” and said, “We do not want to be associated with him.”

To be disavowed by a group that spent the Summer of 2020 looting, destroying property, and burning down cities speaks volumes.

Arama wrote that Ashli Babbit’s tragic death was not the first time Sullivan had been involved in a shooting. Journalist Andy Ngo tweeted about Sullivan’s involvement in organizing a June 30, 2020 protest in Provo, Utah where a civilian was shot and injured.

Sullivan later embedded himself in an August 2020 BLM protest in Washington, D.C., and riled up the crowd, calling for “ripping Trump” from the White House.

Sullivan also has an “Activist John” website, and the home page is close-up footage from the January 6 Capitol unrest showing protestors breaking glass in order to enter the building. Sullivan acted as part provocateur/director, as he egged on those who broke into the Capitol, and part actor/observer, as he videoed the rioters and participated in the trespass. Sullivan encouraged people forward, and helped them climb up the building, screaming, according to the affidavit, “Let’s go. This shit is ours!” and “Let’s burn this shit down.”


Sullivan was invited on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, with another filmmaker named Jade Sacker to discuss what happened at the Capitol and the shooting of Babbit. Cooper refers to Sullivan as a “left-wing activist”, but as Arama noted, there were inconsistencies in Sullivan’s story and shifting narratives on the reason why he was at the Capitol that day.

Now, we know why.

Despite the wealth of charges against him, at Sullivan’s arraignment on January 15, against the protestations of the prosecutors, he was released without bail. Prosecutors asked that he be held in jail until trial, arguing that he incited riots using social media and “thrives on chaos.” They also purported that he presented a risk if released. But as Arama reported, under bail reform requirements, Judge Daphne Oberg said that the threshold wasn’t met to be able to hold him. The judge ruled to release him without bail, with the condition that he stay off social media, surrender his passport, and be on house arrest. Judge Oberg also said he had to stop actively working for Insurgence USA, although he wouldn’t have to give up control of the group.

According to the DOJ, Sullivan violated those conditions:

The Justice Department previously laid out how Sullivan allegedly violated a Utah judge’s conditions of release, including accessing three of his Twitter accounts in contravention of the court’s instructions, flouting the supervision officer’s instructions by buying a new phone, appearing on InfoWars to defend his actions, and to encourage people to follow his group, and mass emailing his Insurgence USA members to “Pack The Courtroom.”


Below are the receipts: invoices, ACH deposits, and licensing agreements Sullivan entered into with the various media companies.


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