By Jacob Fischler, Georgia Recorder [This article first appeared in the States Newsroom and Georgia Recorder, republished with permission]
June 15, 2022
The day before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, West Point GOP Rep. Barry Loudermilk gave a tour to a group that included a man who took unusual photos in House office buildings, including of stairwells, tunnels and security checkpoints, the House committee investigating the attack said Wednesday.
On the day of the insurrection, the same individual was recorded issuing threats of violence against members of Congress, including Democratic leaders, the Jan. 6 committee said.
“They’re coming in, coming in like white on rice for Pelosi, Nadler, even you, AOC,” the unidentified man said on a video released by the committee, referring to New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “We’re coming to take you out and pull you out by your hairs … When I get done with you, you’re going to need a shine on top of that bald head.”
Loudermilk said Wednesday he was not aware of anyone in the group being criminally charged and denied wrongdoing.
In a letter from Jan. 6 committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson, the panel renewed a call for Loudermilk, a Republican, to meet with them and explain the Jan. 5 tour he gave that included the Longworth, Cannon and Rayburn office buildings, which connect to the Capitol through underground tunnels.
“The behavior of these individuals during the January 5, 2021 tour raises concerns about their activity and intent while inside the Capitol complex,” Thompson wrote.
Capitol surveillance footage released by the committee showed the group taking pictures of basement areas normally not of interest to tourists, but possibly useful to people planning to seize the Capitol, including the tunnels.
The Capitol was closed to tours at that point of the pandemic, but the group spent several hours walking around the office buildings, the committee said.
Along with the letter, the panel released a video comprising Jan. 5 security footage from the Capitol and footage the panel says was recorded by the member of Loudermilk’s tour group as he approached the Capitol as part of the pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6.
Letter from Capitol Police
The dissemination of the video followed release of a letter from the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, dated Monday, that said the Loudermilk tour was not viewed as part of a reconnaissance mission.
In the letter to House Administration Committee ranking Republican Rodney Davis of Illinois, Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger confirmed Loudermilk gave a tour to 12 to 15 people on Jan. 5, but said the group did not raise concerns with officers who are trained to spot people conducting surveillance or reconnaissance.
The group did not enter the Capitol itself, Manger said.
In a statement, Loudermilk said the accusation was without merit.
”The Capitol Police already put this false accusation to bed, yet the Committee is undermining the Capitol Police and doubling down on their smear campaign, releasing so-called evidence of a tour of the House Office Buildings, which I have already publicly addressed,” he said.
“As Capitol Police confirmed, nothing about this visit with constituents was suspicious. The pictures show children holding bags from the House gift shop, which was open to visitors, and taking pictures of the Rayburn train.”
“Once again, the Committee released this letter to the press, and did not contact me,” he added. “This type of behavior is irresponsible and has real consequences — including ongoing death threats to myself, my family, and my staff.”
In the video shot during the Capitol attack, the man holding the camera recorded another man holding a flag with a sharpened pole. The second man said the sharpened flagpole was “for a certain person.”
As he marched toward the Capitol, the man recording the video said, “There’s no escape Pelosi, Schumer, Nadler. We’re coming for you.”
The comment was in reference to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, all Democrats. The man had photographed Nadler’s nameplate outside the New Yorker’s office, according to the committee.
In the Tuesday letter to Loudermilk, Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, said he’d hoped to share the video with Loudermilk at a meeting, but that Loudermilk had denied a May 19 request to meet.
Loudermilk has consistently denied the tour was improper, and filed an ethics complaint in May 2021 against New Jersey’s Mikie Sherrill and other Democrats, who’d written to Capitol police asking them to investigate tours like the one Loudermilk led.
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