New Video Shows Trump Rally Attendees Scoping Out Capitol Day Before Jan. 6 Attack
WASHINGTON ― New footage released by the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection shows members of a tour group hosted by a Republican lawmaker taking pictures of Capitol complex hallways and making menacing comments about members of Congress.
The U.S. Capitol Police said this week that it did not consider the tour group’s activity “suspicious.” But the Jan. 6 committee renewed its previous request for Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), who led the tour, to provide more information.
The video shows people in the group taking pictures on Jan. 5 in the basement hallways of the Longworth and Cannon House office buildings, which are connected to the Capitol by a tunnel. The committee has suggested the group might have been conducting reconnaissance for the next day’s riot.
“Individuals on the tour photographed and recorded areas of the complex not typically of interest to tourists, including hallways, staircases and security checkpoints,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chair of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol, wrote in a Wednesday letter to Loudermilk.
The committee’s video also includes Jan. 6 footage of members of the same tour group marching toward the Capitol after a speech by President Donald Trump. It does not show members of the group entering the Capitol that day.
The committee released the material the day before its third public hearing. Last week the committee began a series of hearings to present the evidence it has gathered over nearly a year of investigating the Capitol riot. The hearings so far have presented the riot as the culmination of a brazen conspiracy to steal the 2020 election, one that many members of Trump’s campaign and his administration described in the committee’s depositions as unjustified and even “bullshit.”
In the footage from the march toward the Capitol, some of the people in Loudermilk’s group made what the committee called “disturbing threats” against members of Congress.
“There’s no escape,” one man says in the video, before mentioning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.). “We’re coming for you.”
Surveillance footage shows a tour led by Loudermilk to areas in the House Office Buildings, as well as the entrances to Capitol tunnels.
Individuals on the tour photographed/recorded areas not typically of interest to tourists: hallways, staircases and security checkpoints. pic.twitter.com/Rjhf2BTdbc
— January 6th Committee (@January6thCmte) June 15, 2022
The Capitol Police said this week that the group’s behavior in the Capitol complex did not raise security concerns.
“At no time did the group appear in any tunnels that would have led them to the U.S. Capitol,” Capitol Police chief Thomas Manger wrote in a letter to Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), the top Republican on the House Administration Committee.
“There is no evidence that Representative Loudermilk entered the U.S. Capitol with this group on January 5, 2021,” Manger wrote. “We train our officers on being alert for people conducting surveillance or reconnaissance, and we do not consider any of the activities we observed as suspicious.”
Like other House Republicans, Loudermilk has refused to cooperate with the Jan. 6 committee. He said the Capitol Police letter essentially cleared him of wrongdoing because he “never gave a tour of the Capitol” itself, just the House office buildings.
In his letter to Loudermilk on Wednesday, Thompson suggested the committee had wanted to show the video to the Republican privately, but released it publicly in the interest of getting him to answer questions.
Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) said on Twitter he thought the tour group’s photography was indeed unusual.
“This is the stairwell I take to my office,” Boyle said. “In my 8 yrs here, I have never seen a tourist taking a picture of it. “
This is the stairwell I take to my office. In my 8 yrs here, I have never seen a tourist taking a picture of it. #January6thCommitteehttps://t.co/SuZV4w5GPD
— US Rep Brendan Boyle (@RepBrendanBoyle) June 15, 2022
Loudermilk tweeted his response Wednesday, calling it a “smear campaign” and saying that there were “ongoing death threats to myself, my family, and my staff.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.