Jan. 6 panel pressures Republican lawmaker with release of tour video

Jabin Botsford/Pool via REUTERS
File Photo: Members of congress pose for photos before the House select committee tasked with investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol holds a hearing on Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S. June 13, 2022.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The congressional panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol took aim at a fellow lawmaker on Wednesday as it released video footage showing him giving a tour of the building the previous day to a man who participated in the riot.

The video shows the man in question, who was not named, taking pictures of tunnels and security checkpoints the day before the attack while participating in a guided tour by Republican Representative Barry Loudermilk.

Separate footage released by the House of Representatives panel shows the man issuing threats to prominent Democrats as he approached the Capitol on Jan. 6 with thousands of other supporters of then-president Donald Trump.

Loudermilk’s office accused the Jan. 6 committee of a “smear campaign” in a statement and cited a letter from the Capitol Police saying that the activity of the tour group was not suspicious.

That letter said the group was not seen in tunnels that led to the Capitol and there is no evidence that Loudermilk entered the Capitol with them during their visit.

The committee’s chairperson, Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson, said the behavior of the group raised questions because they photographed security checkpoints and other areas that were not typically of interest to tourists on a day when the Capitol complex was closed to the public.

The committee said it had repeated a request to Loudermilk to provide information.

The request comes amid heightened tension between the Democratic-led committee and most Republican House members, who have removed the top Republican on the committee, Liz Cheney, from a leadership post.

Committee members said at a hearing last week that more than one congressional Republican had asked Trump for a pardon, drawing a sharp denial from Representative Scott Perry, the only one named.

The video shown on Wednesday includes clips apparently taken on the man’s mobile phone as he narrated, as well as surveillance footage from the Capitol complex on Jan. 5 showing him taking pictures of staircases, security checkpoints and tunnels not normally of interest to tourists.

In the video, the man’s heard threatening high-profile Democratic lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. ‘

“They are swarming and converging… from all routes in. There’s no escape… We’re coming for you,” the man said as he approached the Capitol according to a video released by the House of Representatives committee.

It was not clear if the man was among the more than 840 people charged with taking part in the riot.

The committee is holding a series of at least six public hearings this month on the findings of its nearly year-long probe.