The House Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection released video on Wednesday of a tour led by a Republican lawmaker the day before the attack, showing attendees taking photos of stairwells and of tunnels in the Capitol complex.
The panel released the video as it renewed calls for GOP lawmaker Georgia Rep. Barry Loudermilk to speak to the tour committee. So far, Loudermilk has declined the interview and denied any wrongdoing, and the U.S. Capitol Police Chief said in a letter to Republicans this week that after reviewing the surveillance video, ” we do not consider any of the activity we observed to be suspicious.”
Yet the committee says it has questions. In addition to the surveillance video, footage released by the panel also includes video of an unidentified man walking toward the Capitol on Jan. 6 holding a flagpole that appears to have a pointed end, which he says is “for a certain person”. The committee said the man who took the video, who is not seen in the footage but laughs and urges the man with the flag, is one of the tour participants who was taking photos at the inside the Capitol the day before.
Footage taken later by the same man shows people approaching the Capitol. The man taking the video then makes apparent threats to Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and New York Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“They’re coming, coming like white on rice for Pelosi, Nadler, even you, AOC,” the man says in the video released by the committee. “We come to take you out and pull you by the hair. …When I’m done with you, you’ll need a shine on that bald head.
The panel did not say whether the man entered the Capitol or faced charges. While more than 800 people have been accused of breaking into the building or violently beating police officers, thousands more protesters were outside the building or on the National Mall and did not not committed violence. The breach temporarily halted certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.
In a Wednesday letter to Loudermilk renewing the interview request, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, chair of the committee, said the panel “hoped to show you the video evidence when you met with us” but was releasing it publicly because Loudermilk had so far declined. Thompson said areas photographed and recorded by some during the tour “are generally not of interest to tourists, including hallways, stairways and security checkpoints.”
Another panel member, Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, tweeted after the video was released: “Please take a look. These are not normal tour routes, the Capitol was closed to tours.
The back and forth with Loudermilk underscored the committee’s difficulty in obtaining information from Republicans who were communicating with President Donald Trump, the White House or rioters during the insurgency or before Trump had devised a strategy to reverse his defeat. electoral. While the panel conducted more than 1,000 interviews, five GOP lawmakers defied the subpoenas, including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, who spoke with Trump that day.
Loudermilk has not been subpoenaed and there is no evidence that he knew any of his tour participants were outside the Capitol the following day.
The Georgia Republican said in a statement after the video was released that the panel was “undermining Capitol Police and doubling down on its smear campaign.” He said there was “nothing there” and noted that none of the places visited had been breached on January 6.
“As confirmed by Capitol Police, nothing about this visit with voters was suspicious,” Loudermilk said. In an interview with reporters on Capitol Hill, he said he condemned the harsh language against lawmakers but “nobody in that group showed that kind of aggression that day.”
Police reviewed footage of Loudermilk’s tour as the committee requested his interview and after some Democrats said immediately after the attack that Republicans had previously conducted “reconnaissance tours” of the Capitol building. There is no evidence that this happened.
“This false narrative that the Committee and Democrats continue to push, that Republicans, myself included, have conducted reconnaissance tours is patently false,” Loudermilk said in his statement.
In a letter Monday to Republicans on the House Administration Committee, of which Loudermilk is a member, Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said there were about 15 people on the tour and that Loudermilk was showing voters the Capitol complex, which was closed to visitors. at the time due to coronavirus concerns. But they did not enter the Capitol itself. The group also walked through one of the buildings without the congressman, Manger said.
Surveillance video released by the committee shows the group at the entrances to tunnels that lead to the Capitol but do not enter the building. The Capitol complex comprises 20 buildings and facilities, including House and Senate offices, and underground tunnels connect most buildings to the Capitol.
“There is no evidence that Rep. Loudermilk entered the U.S. Capitol with this group on January 5, 2021,” Manger said in the letter. “We train our officers to be alert to people carrying out surveillance or reconnaissance, and we do not consider any activity we observe to be suspicious.”
The Republicans on the House Administration Committee previously said they reviewed security footage from Jan. 5 and said there were “no visitors, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats.”
But Thompson and Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, chair and vice chair of the Jan. 6 panel, said last month that their review of the evidence “directly contradicts that denial.”
Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri and Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.