Democratic members of Congress are peddling theories that their GOP colleagues gave “reconnaissance” tours of the Capitol to “insurrectionists” just one day before a mob rioted at the historic building, but so far, no evidence has surfaced.
“I’m going to see they are held accountable, and if necessary, ensure that they don’t serve in Congress,” said New Jersey Rep. Mikie Sherrill, referring to “those members of Congress who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5 — a reconnaissance for the next day; those members of Congress that incited this violent crowd; those members of Congress that attempted to help our president undermine our democracy.”
While the Capitol was technically closed to the public on Jan. 5 due to COVID-19 restrictions, accepting only tours with members’ families and staff, more than 30 Democratic legislators, led by Sherrill, signed a letter asking for acting House Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy Blodgett, acting Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Jennifer Hemingway, and acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman to investigate “suspicious behavior and access given to visitors to the Capitol Complex on Tuesday, January 5, 2021 — the day before the attacks on the Capitol.”
“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,” the letter reads. “This is unusual for several reasons, including the fact that access to the Capitol Complex has been restricted since public tours ended in March due to the pandemic. We found these tours so concerning that senior staff questioned the SAA on January 5 about what was taking place.”
Today I joined with more than 30 of my colleagues in requesting an investigation from the Acting House SAA, Acting Senate SAA, and USCP into the suspicious behavior and access given to visitors to the Capitol Complex on Jan. 5, 2021 – the day before the attacks on the Capitol. pic.twitter.com/zpPUSUuSrj
— Rep. Mikie Sherrill (@RepSherrill) January 13, 2021
As Politico noted, neither the letter nor Sherrill named any specific members, explained how giving tours was “reconnaissance,” nor said how tours might have fueled or enabled the riot. Sherrill also did not respond to The Federalist’s questions about who might have allowed these reportedly “suspicious” tours to occur.
Sherrill is one of the many lawmakers on the left alleging that their colleagues played a role in orchestrating the Jan. 6 chaos that left five people dead. During a live video session on Instagram just last week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York told her viewers that she “didn’t even feel safe around other members of Congress” during the attack because she feared they would oust her to the rioters.
“There were QAnon and white supremacist sympathizers and, frankly, white supremacist members of Congress … who I know and who I have felt would disclose my location and would create opportunities to allow me to be hurt, kidnapped, etc.,” she said.
Similarly, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio also alleged that “a couple” members of Congress might have given tours to people outside their family and staff.
“I’m going to wait to make sure we get verification,” the congressman said, noting that the tours he knew of were not “one-on-one” tours or that of “a small family.”
Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, a member of the progressive House “Squad,” also suggested that GOP members could not be trusted after “every panic button” in her office was removed without warning, knowledge, or approval.
Despite these strong allegations, most of the Democrats have failed to provide evidence of or even names of the members who allowed the suspicious tours. One of the closest things to a name that any of the accusers has offered came during Rep. Sean Maloney’s rant on MSNBC last week, when the New York lawmaker hinted that some of the newer GOP members could be responsible for giving the tours.
“I don’t have firsthand knowledge of [the tours], but I’ve spoken to a member who saw it personally,” he said. “And he described it with some alarm that there are some of our new colleagues — the same ones, of course, who believe in conspiracy theories and who want to carry guns into the House chamber — who, today, today, have been yelling at Capitol Police.”
Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee took it a step further, saying Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado was one of the members he saw giving a tour.
“We saw congress[woman] Boebert taking a group of people for a tour sometime after the 3rd and before the 6th,” he told CNN.
Boebert, however, previously denied ever giving a tour to “an outside group.”
“I have never given a tour of the US Capitol to an outside group,” she said in a statement on Jan. 14.
Rep. Lauren Boebert’s statement on January 14: “I have never given a tour of the US Capitol to an outside group.”
Boebert’s communications director resigned on January 15th. pic.twitter.com/gvYvPLKjpB
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) January 18, 2021