WASHINGTON — The January 6th Committee said Thursday it believes new evidence shows a Republican congressman led a tour at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 5 – potentially contradicting claims by the GOP members of the Committee on House Administration.
In a letter to Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), the committee requested the congressman voluntarily testify next week about evidence they’ve reviewed showing he may have led a tour “through parts of the Capitol complex on January 5, 2021.”
“The foregoing information raises questions to which the Select Committee must seek answers,” the letter reads. “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.’”
Concerns about possible tours of the Capitol drew significant attention in the wake of the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol Building but, to date, no concrete evidence had been presented. In the week after the assault, Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) called the alleged tours “a reconnaissance for the next day.” Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) claimed to have personally witnessed tours of the Capitol.
"In the lead up to Jan. 6, what I witnessed was members of the public, people who had no business being in the Capitol during the shutdowns, milling about in the office buildings," Spanberger said. "The way that these individuals would have entered the Capitol in the first place would have been with a member of Congress making that possible.”
At the time, public tours of the Capitol were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the January 6th Committee’s letter, Republicans on the Committee on House Administration — of which Loudermilk is a member — claimed to have reviewed security footage from the days prior to Jan. 6 and determined there were no tours or large groups at the Capitol.
“However, the Select Committee’s review of evidence directly contradicts that denial,” the letter reads.
Loudermilk, a U.S. Air Force veteran and former member of both chambers of the Georgia State Legislature, was one of more than 120 Republicans to sign an amicus brief contesting the results of the 2020 presidential election and voted on Jan. 6 to object to the certification of Electoral College votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania. In a December 2020 statement, he said he had “reasonable and significant doubt” that the electors from his own state of Georgia “actually reflect the true will of the people.”
In a statement Thursday afternoon, Loudermilk and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), the ranking member of the Committee on House Administration, said the committee released the letter publicly before notifying Loudermilk and denied there was anything nefarious about the tour.
"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 men wrote. "The family never entered the Capitol building."
Loudermilk and Davis said they stand by a May 2021 ethics complaint they and other Republicans signed about Democrats' claims of pre-Jan. 6 tours, and called on U.S. Capitol Police to "release the tapes."
The committee’s request for testimony from Loudermilk comes as it has ramped up efforts to hear from Republican members of the House believed to have information about Jan. 6. Last week, the committee took the nearly unprecedented step of subpoenaing five GOP representatives. They included House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who are both believed to have spoken directly with former President Donald Trump during the Capitol riot. In its subpoenas, the committee said the recipients include “those who participated in meetings at the White House, those who had direct conversations with President Trump leading up to and during the attack on the Capitol, and those who were involved in the planning and coordination of certain activities on and before January 6th.”
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