The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is asking Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) to voluntarily appear before its investigators, pointing to a tour he led through the building the day before the deadly riot.
“Based on our review of evidence in the Select Committee’s possession, we believe you have information regarding a tour you led through parts of the Capitol complex on January 5, 2021,” the panel wrote in the letter to Loudermilk.
“Public reporting and witness accounts indicate some individuals and groups engaged in efforts to gather information about the layout of the US Capitol, as well as the House and Senate office buildings, in advance of January 6, 2021.”
Concerns that lawmakers themselves may have led reconnaissance tours through the Capitol were floated shortly after the attack.
The letter also notes Loudermilk’s involvement in an effort from the House Committee on Administration, which urged release of Capitol Police footage of the Capitol’s tunnels and entrances and exits on Jan. 5.
The Administration Committee’s letter to the Capitol Police Board–first obtained by The Hill in February – claimed that the video showed “no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on.”
“The Select Committee’s review of evidence directly contradicts that denial,” the committee writes to Loudermilk.
Loudermilk is the seventh member of Congress the committee has requested to voluntarily sit down with the committee. Five, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) were subpoenaed last week, though the compulsory request was not extended to Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas).
In a statement, Loudermilk and the House Committee on Administration pushed back on the panel, saying a small tour he gave to a family with young children “never entered the Capitol building.”
“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,” its chair Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) said in a statement with Loudermilk.
“We call on Capitol Police to release the tapes,” he added.
Democrats flagged concerns about group tours in the Capitol — an unusual sight during the COVID-related shutdown of the visitor’s center — shortly after the riot.
Rep. Mikie Sherrill (DN.J.) led 34 Democratic lawmakers in a letter to Capitol Police last January asking the department to investigate, noting that those who attacked the Capitol had an unusually high level of knowledge about the layout of the building.
“Many of the Members who signed this letter, including those of us who have served in the military and are trained to recognize suspicious activity, as well as various members of our staff, witnessed an extremely high number of outside groups in the complex on Tuesday , January 5. This is unusual for several reasons, including the fact that access to the Capitol Complex has been restricted since public tours ended in March of last year due to the pandemic,” they wrote.
“The visitors encountered by some of the Members of Congress on this letter appeared to be associated with the rally at the White House the following day. … The presence of these groups within the Capitol Complex was indeed suspicious.”
Sherrill has never clarified her comments to reveal which Republican lawmakers she alleges she saw giving tours that day.
But other members have made similar comments, including Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (DN.Y.) who said another colleague witnessed something similar.
The House Committee on Administration, of which Loudermilk is a member, set out to refute those claims, sifting through Capitol Police footage themselves.
“We have reviewed the security footage from the Capitol Complex during the relevant period preceding January 6, 2021, and we know it does not support these repeated Democrat accusations about so-called ‘reconnaissance’ tours,” Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill. .), the committee’s chair, he wrote in the letter obtained by The Hill.
Loudermilk was among those who texted then-Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows as the attack was unfolding.
“It’s really bad up here on the hill. They have breached the Capitol,” he wrote
This story was updated at 5:39 pm
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism