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Lawmaker’s Capitol Complex Tour on the Eve of Jan. 6 Was Innocent, Police Say

WASHINGTON — A tour of parts of the Capitol complex given by a Republican lawmaker the day before the Jan. 6 riots appears to have been innocent, Capitol police said Monday, describing a visit that was criticized by the House committee. who investigated the attack. as just a meeting with voters.

“We train our officers to be alert to those on surveillance or reconnaissance, and we don’t consider any of the activities we’ve observed as suspicious,” Capitol Police chief J. Thomas Manger wrote in a statement. letter on the tour, which was led by Representative Barry Loudermilk of Georgia.

House committee leaders last month invited Mr. Asked Loudermilk to submit to questioning about the tour, saying they were investigating whether rioters had explored the building before the disaster happened.

They did not directly claim that someone escorted by Mr. Loudermilk later attacked the Capitol. But they suggested they obtained evidence that he had guided visitors through the complex, writing that their assessment of the evidence “directly contradicts” Republicans’ denials that closed-circuit CCTV footage showed no such tours had taken place.

Chief Manger said the Capitol Police Department reviewed CCTV footage of the complex on Jan. 5 and saw Mr. Loudermilk leading a tour of about 15 people visiting the Rayburn House Office Building and the Cannon House Office Building.

His letter described the tour as a “voter visit” and noted that the group did not enter the Capitol Building or the tunnel system.

“There is no evidence that Representative Loudermilk entered the US Capitol with his group on January 5, 2021,” Chief Manger wrote.

Tours of the Capitol were limited at the time due to pandemic restrictions.

The office of Mr. Loudermilk released Chief Manger’s letter Monday, which was sent to Illinois Representative Rodney Davis, the top Republican on the Administrative Commission.

A spokesperson for the House Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a statement last month, Mr. Loudermilk admitted to taking voters to parts of the Capitol complex the day before the riots — though not the Capitol itself, but said the visit was harmless.

“A family with young children meeting a Congressman in the House office buildings is not a suspicious group or ‘reconnaissance tour,'” Mr. Loudermilk wrote in a joint statement with Mr. Davis, adding: “There is no place where the family went on the 5th was violated on the 6th, the family did not enter the Capitol on the 6th, and no one in that family has been investigated or charged in connection with January 6.”

Mr Loudermilk has declined to meet with the panel to discuss the matter.

To date, not one of the seven Republican lawmakers the committee has asked to meet has agreed. The commission has subpoenaed five of them, including minority leader Kevin McCarthy, California Representative, to try to force their cooperation.

On Monday, the panel wrapped up its second public hearing this month, in which it made a comprehensive case that former President Donald J. Trump had created and relentlessly spread the lie that the 2020 election had been stolen from him, in the face of mounting evidence of a chorus of advisers that he was legitimately defeated.

A pro-Trump mob of thousands, believing those lies, attacked the Capitol as Congress gathered on Jan. 6 to vote on the election of Joseph R. Biden Jr. in which more than 150 police officers were injured and caused widespread damage.

Immediately after the riots, Democrats raised the question of whether some Republican members of Congress had defied pandemic restrictions and given tours of the Capitol before the attack so that visitors could study the layout of the complex before the violent eruption.

More than 30 Democrats joined New Jersey Representative Mikie Sherrill in calling for an investigation by top Capitol security officials and the Capitol Police Department into what Ms. Sherrill called “suspicious behavior” and access that the day before the rioting to visitors to the Capitol complex.

Ms. Sherrill said she knew members of Congress who had given “reconnaissance tours” prior to the attack.

The Capitol Police Department said at the time that they were investigating the matter.

Republicans vehemently denied the allegations.

One lawmaker, Representative Lauren Boebert, a freshman Colorado Republican accused by a Democrat of giving a tour, said in a statement that she “had never given a tour of the U.S. Capitol to anyone other than family members in the United States.” city ​​for my oath.” She called the charge an “irresponsible lie.”

Mr. Loudermilk also denounced the allegations and joined an ethics complaint against Democrats that they had leveled.

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