Steil consults with Capitol Police about surveillance footage of Van Orden confrontation with teenage Senate pages

Rep. Derrick Van Orden
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

WASHINGTON – House Administration Chairman Bryan Steil says he has reached out to Capitol Police about surveillance footage from an incident in which freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Derrick Van Orden berated a group of Senate pages in the Capitol — a move that came after a fellow Wisconsin congressman called on Steil to release the video.

Steil, a Republican from Janesville, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a statement that he “requested input from the US Capitol Police due to the footage in question involving minors employed by the Senate."

His remarks came just hours after Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan called on Steil to release footage from the July 26 incident in which Van Orden, who represents Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District, yelled and cursed at teenage Senate pages who were lying on their backs taking photos of the Capitol Rotunda’s dome as Van Orden was giving a late-night tour of the building.

As chairman of the House Administration Committee, Steil oversees the functioning of the House and has oversight over Capitol Police.

“If the widely shared reports are accurate, Representative Van Orden’s behavior toward the pages on July 26 was completely unacceptable and further calls into question his fitness for office,” Pocan, who is a vocal opponent of Van Orden’s, wrote to Steil. “It is critical that members of the public, including his constituents in Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District, know the truth of what happened that evening.”

Capitol Police did not immediately respond to emailed questions from the Journal Sentinel.

Van Orden did not dispute that he yelled at the pages and rather has maintained that he believed the pages defiled the Capitol Rotunda by lying down in it, noting the area was used as a field hospital during the Civil War for "countless" Union soldiers.

Union troops, however, were also quartered in the building during the Civil War, and members of the National Guard stationed in the Capitol in the days after the January 6, 2021, insurrection slept in the Rotunda.

Van Orden’s reported behavior, which was described to NBC News as “physically aggressive” and involved Van Orden “screaming inches from the pages’ faces,” drew rebuke from Senate leaders, including Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

North Carolina Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis in a tweet called Van Orden’s actions “inexcusable and embarrassing behavior for a member of Congress or any adult for that matter” and said Van Orden should apologize.

Texas Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Roy poked fun at Van Orden in his own tweet, posting pictures of himself lying on his back to take a photo of the Capitol dome. He captioned the photos: “TGIF after a rough week, Senate Pages? I got a great photo, how about you?”

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy last week said he planned to call Van Orden and suggested the incident was a “misunderstanding.”

Still, Van Orden has stood by his comments and rejected attempts by Democrats to point out that he was outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, as supporters of former President Donald Trump ransacked the same building. He noted that he issued tweets that evening condemning the violence.

In an interview on the Dan O'Donnell Show last week, Van Orden attacked Democrats and the media over the story and speculated that the pages could have been “politically connected.”

“You gotta ask yourself there, Mr. O’Donnell, why is this a thing?” Van Orden said. “Were those pages related to anybody? Were they? If they weren’t politically connected — maybe, I don’t know. Look into it.”

He later added: “I’m not going to apologize for making sure that anybody, I don’t care who you are and who you’re related to, defiles this House. That can't happen on my watch, man."

Pocan in his letter to Steil on Tuesday noted Republicans released 44,000 hours of Capitol surveillance from the Jan. 6 insurrection to former Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

“Representative Van Orden’s constituents deserve to know the truth about the man elected to serve them and releasing this footage would provide much-needed transparency into this potentially very disturbing incident,” Pocan wrote.

THANK YOU: Subscribers' support makes this work possible. Help us share the knowledge by buying a gift subscription.

DOWNLOAD THE APP: Get the latest news, sports and more

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Steil consults with Capitol Police about footage of Van Orden incident