Republican Rep. Barry Loudermilk (Ga.) decisively shot down on Thursday accusations that he led a "reconnaissance" tour through the United States Capitol the day before the Jan. 6 riots.
What are the accusations?
The House committee investigating Jan. 6 sent Loudermilk a letter on Thursday asking him to submit to questioning regarding a tour he "led through parts of the Capitol complex on January 5, 2021."
Democratic lawmakers, especially Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), have claimed some Republican lawmakers led "reconnaissance" tours through the Capitol complex prior to the riots. Republicans have denied the allegations, calling for the public release of surveillance footage."
The committee's letter to Loudermilk seized on comments an anonymous aide told The Hill, who said of the surveillance footage, "There were no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on." The letter falsely attributed the remarks to "Republicans on the Committee on House Administration."
Despite the false attribution, the letter claimed the evidence "directly contradicts that denial." Again, the denial cited by the House committee investigating Jan. 6 neither came from Loudermilk nor any other Republican lawmaker, but was attributed to an anonymous "House Republican aide."
The letter triggered a viral tweet that claimed, without evidence, "video proof" shows that Jan. 6 was an "inside job."
"BREAKING: January 6 committee has video proof of Capitol tours on January 5, 2021. They were casing the joint — it was an inside job, just as we’ve suspected," lawyer Tristan Snell tweeted. "To be clear - it’s long been obvious that such evidence exists. There are security cameras all over the Capitol. But today we got our first hint that the January 6 committee has that evidence."
What did Loudermilk say?
Loudermilk released a joint statement with Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) pushing back against accusations of "reconnaissance" tours.
Importantly, the letter the House committee investigating Jan. 6 sent Loudermilk does not accuse him of leading tours through the Capitol building itself. Rather, the letter simply states "parts of the Capitol complex." This could include, for example, the Rayburn House Office Building, where Loudermilk's congressional office is located.
Loudermilk and Davis wrote:
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 family never entered the Capitol building.
The 1/6 political circus released the letter to the press before even notifying Mr. Loudermilk, who has still not received a copy. The Select Committee is once again pushing a verifiably false narrative that Republicans conducted "reconnaissance tours" on January 5th. The facts speak for themselves; no place that the family went on the 5th was breached on the 6th, the family did not enter the Capitol grounds on the 6th, and no one in that family has been investigated or charged in connection to January 6th.
The Republican lawmakers also reiterated their request that the surveillance footage be released.
It is true the Capitol complex was closed to public tours in January 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But as Politico noted, "lawmakers and staff brought guests into the complex under the guise of 'official business' anyway."
Loudermilk has filed an ethics complaint against Democratic lawmakers over their accusations.