WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: A pro-Trump mob breaks into the U.S. Capitol on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
The U.S. House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol on Thursday asked Republican Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia to appear before the committee to answer questions about a tour of the Capitol that Loudermilk gave the day before the assault.
But Loudermilk and the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, Rodney Davis of Illinois, issued a statement in response strongly rebutting any suggestion that Loudermilk acted improperly.
“A constituent family with young children meeting with their Member of Congress in the House Office Buildings is not a suspicious group or ‘reconnaissance tour.’ The family never entered the Capitol building,” they said.
Shortly after the Jan. 6 attack, 34 House Democrats, led by New Jersey’s Mikie Sherrill, urged police to review member-led Capitol tours in the days leading up to the event, saying that some rioters could have used tours to gain information about the layout of the Capitol complex.
Loudermilk said on that occasion as well that Republicans didn’t lead any such “reconnaissance tour” and filed an ethics complaint against the Democrats.
A week after the attack, U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-5th District, told home state reporters that she saw suspicious tour groups in the Capitol in the days before pro-Trump extremists stormed the building, the Capital-Star previously reported.
Scanlon, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, told journalists that she had seen “people getting tours in the day or two preceding the attack on the Capitol.”
“When I saw the tours, I thought it must be new members who didn’t know the rules,” she said last year. “I noted it. It was unusual. But I didn’t look at it with the same level of detail as [Sherrill] did. I don’t have her foreign policy experience. We need answers on how this happened.”
When she was asked whether she could specifically identify the lawmakers leading the tours, Scanlon said she couldn’t tell if they were being led by colleagues or staff.
“I don’t know all the new members of Congress yet,” she said, adding that, the tours “could have been conducted by a member. My impression was that it was a staff member.”
Scanlon said she had the impression the people on the tours were “Trump supporters because there was a lot of red,” and they weren’t wearing their masks correctly. She could not say on which day she saw the tours.
“I can only say that I can confirm that I saw a tour, 6-8 people, in the tunnels that lead from the office buildings to the Capitol,” she said.
On Thursday, the leaders of the House Select Committee Investigating the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol said they’ve seen evidence that contradicts Loudermilk’s account and directly relates to the fifth-term conservative’s actions.
Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., and Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., signed a letter to Loudermilk that called on him to answer questions about a Jan. 5, 2021, tour of the Capitol he conducted.
Loudermilk and Davis said in their response: “The 1/6 political circus released the letter to the press before even notifying Mr. Loudermilk, who has still not received a copy. The Select Committee is once again pushing a verifiably false narrative that Republicans conducted ‘reconnaissance tours’ on January 5th. The facts speak for themselves; no place that the family went on the 5th was breached on the 6th, the family did not enter the Capitol grounds on the 6th, and no one in that family has been investigated or charged in connection to January 6th.”
They did not identify the family or their relationship to Loudermilk. They called on the Capitol Police to release video footage of Jan. 5.
In May 2021, Loudermilk led a group of Republicans on the House Administration Committee in filing an ethics complaint against Sherrill and the Democrats, saying they accused Republicans, without evidence, of providing reconnaissance tours to insurrectionists.
The complaint denied that any such tours occurred, with members saying they had reviewed security footage of the days preceding Jan. 6, and found that there “were no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on.”
Thompson and Cheney said that doesn’t square with what they have seen.
“The Select [Jan. 6] Committee’s review of evidence directly contradicts that denial,” Thursday’s letter said.
Loudermilk had not previously been known to be among the panel’s targets.
The Jan. 6 committee earlier this month subpoenaed five Republican House members who the panel believes have knowledge of the events leading up to the attack, including communication with then-President Donald Trump.
The committee sent subpoenas to House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Mo Brooks of Alabama.
In a statement accompanying his ethics complaint, Loudermilk took great offense at the Democrats’ accusation.
“A Member of Congress accusing another Member of committing a crime, without evidence, is morally reprehensible and a stain on this institution,” he said. “No Republican Member of Congress led any kind of ‘reconnaissance’ tours through the Capitol, proven by security footage captured by the U.S. Capitol Police.”
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