GOP Reps. Deny Giving ‘Reconnaissance Tours’ to Capitol Rioters

Brittany Bernstein

Representatives Andy Biggs (R., Ariz.), Mo Brooks (R., Ala.), and Paul Gosar (R., Ariz.) are denying any involvement in organizing last week’s rioting at the U.S. Capitol after a protest organizer claimed he “schemed” with them to put “maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting.”

Right-wing activist Ali Alexander’s claim that he had colluded with the congressmen came in a since-deleted video on Periscope unearthed by the Project on Government Oversight.

He said weeks before the storming of the Capitol that he was planning something big for January 6, the date Congress met to tally the electoral votes and affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s win.

Alexander planned to “change the hearts and the minds of Republicans who were in that body, hearing our loud roar from outside,” he said.

Meanwhile, Representative Mikie Sherrill (D., N.J.) on Tuesday claimed she saw members of Congress leading people through the U.S. Capitol on “reconnaissance” tours one day before supporters of President Trump stormed the building, though she did not name the members or explain how she knew she was witnessing a so-called reconnaissance tour.

“We can’t have a democracy if members of Congress are actively helping the president overturn the elections results,” she said. “Not only do I intend to see that the president is removed and never runs for office again and doesn’t have access to classified material, I also intend to see that those members of Congress who abetted him; 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; I’m going to see they are held accountable, and if necessary, ensure that they don’t serve in Congress.”

Sherill did not say whether the “groups” were Trump supporters or offer any additional information on the “reconnaissance.”

National Review has reached out to Sherrill for comment.

A spokesman for Biggs told the Washington Post that the congressman had never been in touch with Alexander or other protestors and denied involvement in organizing a rally on January 6.

“Congressman Biggs is not aware of hearing of or meeting Mr. Alexander at any point — let alone working with him to organize some part of a planned protest,” the statement said.

Brooks on Wednesday also denied having any responsibility for the unrest, saying he would not have encouraged any action that could undermine Republican efforts to block the certification of Biden’s victory.

“I take great offense at anyone who suggests I am so politically inexperienced as to want to torpedo my honest and accurate election system effort I spent months fighting on,” Brooks wrote.

However, the Washington Post notes that videos and posts on social media suggest ties between Alexander, who is a felon, and all three congressmen.

Gosar called Alexander “a true patriot” on Twitter and the pair both spoke at a “Stop the Steal” rally in Phoenix last month.

At the same event, Alexander played a video message from Biggs, who called him a “friend” and “hero.”

“When it comes to January 6, I will be right down there in the well of the House with my friend from Alabama representative Mo Brooks,” Biggs said in the recording.

A spokesperson for Biggs told CNN that the congressman recorded the video at the request of Gosar’s staff.

While Alexander has expressed regret over the rioting, saying in a video on Periscope that he wishes people had not entered the Capitol or even gone on the steps, ahead of the unrest he seemed to endorse stopping the certification of the votes by any means.

If Democrats stopped an objection from Republicans, “everyone can guess what me and 500,000 others will do to that building,” he wrote on Twitter in December, according to the Daily Beast. “1776 is *always* an option.”

At a rally on the eve of the vote, Alexander led a “Victory or death!” chant.

However, he told the Washington Post that he had “remained peaceful” during the siege and claimed his earlier speeches “mentioned peace” and were being misrepresented.

In a video posted shortly after the Capitol riots on January 6, while Alexander claimed the majority of protestors were peaceful and commended those who did not enter the building, he added, “I don’t disavow this. I do not denounce this.”

More from National Review