The House Jan. 6 Committee on Wednesday sounded the alarm on Wednesday, releasing new surveillance footage of Rep. Barry Loudermilk’s (R-GA) Jan. 5 Capitol office building tour just after the U.S. Capitol Police declared the tour unsuspicious.
Screenshots of the video and a link to the committee’s compilation of the footage were included in a letter committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) sent to Loudermilk on Wednesday repeating the panel’s previous demand for an interview with the Georgia Republican to discuss the tour.
Thompson noted that the surveillance tapes showed people on the tour had “photographed and recorded areas of the complex not typically of interest to tourists, including hallways, staircases, and security checkpoints.”
Loudermilk put out a defensive statement accusing the committee of “doubling down on their smear campaign” and insisted that “nothing about this visit with constituents was suspicious.” However, his statement did not address video showing that a man on his tour who had been taking photos marched to the Capitol on Jan. 6 while making threats against certain Democrats.
Thompson’s letter revealed that this person on the tour who appeared to have taken a photo of a staircase in the Longworth House Office Building also filmed himself and a companion marching to the Capitol and standing near Capitol grounds after then-President Donald Trump’s rally at the Ellipse on Jan. 6.
In the person’s video recordings, which were obtained by the committee and included in the letter to Loudermilk, the unnamed man and his companion can be heard making threats against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
“They got it surrounded,” the man is heard saying of fellow Trump supporters headed toward the Capitol. “It’s all the way up there on the hill, and it’s all the way around, and they’re coming in, coming in like white on rice for Pelosi, Nadler, even you, AOC. We’re coming to take you out and pull you out by your hairs.”
The committee combined the man’s recordings with surveillance camera footage of him apparently taking pictures during the tour with Loudermilk in a YouTube video:
It’s unknown whether Loudermilk was aware of what the tour group members were up to or if he knew at least one of them planned to attend the Trump rally that proceeded the riot the next day.
After the committee released the surveillance footage on Wednesday, Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA) pointed out a disturbing moment in the tour when one of the group members appeared to take a picture of the stairwell to his office.
The panel sent the letter to Loudermilk two days after the U.S. Capitol Police reported that, after reviewing surveillance cam footage, there was “no evidence” that the GOP congressman “entered the U.S. Capitol with this group on January 5, 2021.”
“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,” Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger told House Administration Committee ranking member Rodney Davis (R-IL) on Monday. Loudermilk sits on the committee as well.
It’s not clear why the U.S.C.P.’s response to the tour seemed to be less concerned than the committee’s, but the police seemed focused on the fact that the tour group didn’t actually enter the Capitol itself, which was closed to the public at the time due to COVID restrictions.
In May last year, Loudermilk had denied giving “any kind of ‘reconnaissance’ tours through the Capitol,” and a Republican aide on the Administration committee told the Hill in February that there were “no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on” at the the entrances to the Capitol and tunnels the day before the insurrection.
After the Jan. 6 committee sent its first information request to Loudermilk last month, the Georgia Republican and Davis put out a joint statement insisting that the tour only consisted of “a constituent family with young children” and was not in the Capitol building, only the House office buildings.
Read the committee’s letter below: