The U.S. House panel probing last year's insurrection released a video and letter on Wednesday that led to fresh calls for Republican Congressman Barry Loudermilk of Georgia to answer questions about a tour he gave of the U.S. Capitol complex the day before the attack.
"It's time for answers and accountability."
The new letter calling on Loudermilk to meet with the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol comes after the body's chair and vice chair, Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), sent him a similar request last month—three weeks before the panel's series of public hearings began last Thursday.
"Based on our review of surveillance video, social media activity, and witness accounts, we understand you led a tour group through parts of the Capitol complex on January 5, 2021. That group stayed for several hours, despite the complex being closed to the public on that day," states Wednesday's letter, which includes images from the newly released video.
"Surveillance footage shows a tour of approximately 10 individuals led by you to areas in the Rayburn, Longworth, and Cannon House office buildings, as well as the entrances to tunnels leading to the U.S. Capitol," the letter adds. "Individuals on the tour photographed and recorded areas of the complex not typically of interest to tourists, including hallways, staircases, and security checkpoints."
The letter and video also highlight that on January 6, 2021, some individuals who toured the complex with Loudermilk attended a rally at the Ellipse then joined a march to the Capitol, and one person made "detailed and disturbing threats" against then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
Loudermilk Footage youtu.be
Common Cause Georgia executive director Aunna Dennis said in a statement that Wednesday's revelations "are shocking" and "Loudermilk has an obligation to our country and his constituents to answer the committee's questions about his involvement."
Loudermilk was among six members of Congress representing Georgia—and 147 House Republicans—who "voted to overturn the election results and failed to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election, and played a clear role in spreading disinformation around the election, leading to the violence," Dennis noted.
"I am reiterating my call today for their resignations," she said. "The people of Georgia need representation at the federal level fully committed to our democracy, not those who would undermine it by rejecting our election results."
Urging everyone to tune in to the panel's hearings—scheduled to resume Thursday, June 16 at 10:00 am ET—Dennis declared that "this is a historic moment for Americans to learn how close our democracy came to being irreparably harmed in the violent attack on our Capitol. It's also a history we need to know and understand so that we never have our democracy attacked like this again."
The Common Cause leader was far from alone in responding with alarm to the committee's latest releases about Loudermilk.
"Tours of the Capitol don't typically include scoping out stairwells and security checkpoints," tweeted Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who is not a member of the select committee. "It's time for answers and accountability."
Walter Shaub, a senior ethics fellow at the Project on Government Oversight, said of Loudermilk that "it's hard to imagine what defense the congressman could possibly offer."
Ocasio-Cortez noted that Loudermilk on Tuesday publicly shared a letter from the Capitol Police chief—which describes some of the surveillance footage also featured in the panel video—that the congressman's office claimed cleared him "of any wrongdoing."
"The truth will always prevail," Loudermilk said Tuesday, claiming the select committee made "their baseless accusation about me to the media" and that he "never gave a tour of the Capitol" the day before last year's attack.
Wednesday's letter notably states that Loudermilk led the group through parts of the Capitol complex, which includes various House and Senate offices, Library of Congress facilities, the Supreme Court Building, and the U.S. Botanic Garden.
Responding to the letter and video on Twitter, Loudermilk said Wednesday that "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."
"As Capitol Police confirmed, nothing about this visit with constituents was suspicious," the congressman continued. "The pictures show children holding bags from the House gift shop, which was open to visitors, and taking pictures of the Rayburn train."
"This type of behavior is irresponsible and has real consequences—including ongoing death threats to myself, my family, and my staff," Loudermilk added.
Appearing on MSNBC Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), a member of the select committee, emphasized that the panel is not making accusations against Loudermilk but wants to formally meet with him about his activities the day before the attack.