A Republican led a Capitol tour the day before the insurrection, then the GOP covered it up

The House committee investigating the January 6th insurrection has uncovered evidence that at least one Republican member led a tour through the Capitol ahead of the attack, something the GOP has previously denied.

Democratic lawmakers noticed the “concerning” tours and reported the incidences to the House Sergeant at Arms days after the insurrection (letter):

The tours being conducted on Tuesday, January 5, were a noticeable and concerning departure from the procedures in place as of March 2020 that limited the number of visitors to the Capitol. These tours were so concerning that they were reported to the Sergeant at Arms on January 5. 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.

Rep. Mikie Sherrill said that she saw a fellow member of Congress giving a “reconnaissance” tour of the Capitol the day before the riot, but did not identify the individual.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney told MSNBC that he spoke to a different lawmaker who also witnessed a tour being conducted by a member of Congress. “I don’t have firsthand knowledge of it but I spoke to a Member who saw it personally and he described it with some alarm,” Maloney said.

We can’t be sure a Member of Congress won’t bring a gun to the inauguration. We can’t be sure a member of this body wouldn’t be bringing people around the night before who the next day may have been participating in the murder of a Capitol Police officer. I can’t believe I’m saying these things, but this is where we find ourselves and we don’t plan on being caught off guard again.

Rep. Barry Loudermilk, from the 11th District of Georgia (encompassing Marietta and the area surrounding Allatoona Lake), issued an angry denial on behalf of his entire party shortly after Democratic lawmakers began talking about the alleged tours. In his own words, giving such a tour is tantamount to “treason.”

“A Member of Congress accusing another Member of committing a crime, without evidence, is morally reprehensible and a stain on this institution. 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…

“My Republican colleagues and I will not sit by while Democrats accuse their colleagues of treason for political gain. This type of conduct must not be tolerated; and, the Committee on Ethics needs to take quick and decisive action to ensure this never happens again.”

Loudermilk’s letter was backed up by Republicans on the House Administration Committee earlier this year. “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,” Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-IL) said.

A House Republican aide said the committee reviewed 48 hours of footage, looking at video of the entrances to the Capitol as well as tunnels for Jan. 4 and Jan. 5.

“There were no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on,” the aide said. “There’s nothing in there remotely fitting the depiction in Mikie Sherrill’s letter.”

Now, it comes out that not only was there at least one lawmaker-led tour on January 5th, Loudermilk himself led it. According to the January 6th Committee (letter), House Republicans allegedly helped cover up the tour(s) in the aftermath of the insurrection.

We write to seek your voluntary cooperation in advancing our investigation. 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 foregoing information raises questions to which the Select Committee must seek answers. Public reporting and witness accounts indicate some individuals and groups engaged in efforts to gather information about the layout of the U.S. Capitol, as well as the House and Senate office buildings, in advance of January 6, 2021. For example, in the week following January 6th, Members urged law enforcement leaders to investigate sightings of “outside groups in the complex” on January 5th that “appeared to be associated with the rally at the White House the following day.”

In response to those allegations, Republicans on the Committee on House Administration—of which you are a Member—claimed to have reviewed security footage from the days preceding January 6th and determined that “[t]here were no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on.” However, the Select Committee’s review of evidence directly contradicts that denial.

Following the release of the Committee’s letter, Loudermilk and Davis released a joint statement:

“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.

“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.

“We call on Capitol Police to release the tapes,” the statement concludes.