The House Jan. 6 select committee on Wednesday released video footage of GOP Rep. Barry Loudermilk leading constituents on a tour around the Capitol complex on Jan. 5 -- that included nearby office building but not the Capitol itself -- and it claimed that one of the participants marched to the Capitol the next day and made "detailed" threats against members of Congress.
The committee's move comes after Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said in a letter the tour was not suspicious, although the committee said the footage raises questions because it appears to show several participants taking photos of the stairways and tunnel systems connecting the Capitol to members' office buildings.
"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," Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., wrote.
"Surveillance footage shows a tour of approximately ten 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," he continued. "Individuals on the tour photographed and recorded areas of the complex not typically of interest to tourists, including hallways, staircases, and security checkpoints."
At the same time, the letter from the committee does not suggest that anyone on the tour entered the Capitol that day or has been charged with wrongdoing.
The letter goes on to say that the committee "has learned that some individuals you sponsored into the complex attended the rally at the Ellipse on the morning of January 6, 2021. According to video recordings from that day obtained by the Select Committee, the individual who appeared to photograph a staircase in the Longworth House Office Building filmed a companion with a flagpole appearing to have a sharpened end who spoke to the camera saying, “It’s for a certain person,” while making an aggressive jabbing motion."
The letter continued, "Later, these individuals joined the unpermitted march from the Ellipse to the U.S. Capitol. While standing near the Capitol grounds, the same individual made a video that contained detailed and disturbing threats against specific Members of Congress. For example, as the individual filmed the march to the Capitol, he said, “There’s no escape Pelosi, Schumer, Nadler. We’re coming for you.” As he looked up at the Capitol, he went on: They got it surrounded. 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 youout and pull you out by your hairs. … When I get done with you, you’re going to need a shine on top of that bald head."
Loudermilk heatedly denied any wrongdoing in a statement he tweeted soon after, accusing the committee of a "smear campaign" and claiming “no one” in his Jan. 5 tour group has been “criminally charged” in relation to Jan. 6.
In his letter made public Tuesday, Manger told the top Republican on the House Administration Committee that there was "no evidence" that Loudermilk gave "reconnaissance" tours before the Jan. 6 attack.
The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol had requested information from Loudermilk, a Georgia Republican, suggesting in a May letter that he may be linked to a tour through parts of the Capitol on the day before the attack.
Manger told Rep. Rodney Davis, an Illinois Republican, that no such tours were conducted and that Loudermilk was giving a tour to constituents.
"As I've said since the Jan. 6 Committee made their baseless accusation about me to the media, I never gave a tour of the Capitol on Jan 5, 2021 and a small group visiting their congressman is in no way a suspicious activity," Loudermilk said in a tweet Tuesday. "Now the Capitol Police have confirmed this fact."
Rep. Mickie Sherill, a New Jersey Democrat, alleged in a January 2021 letter that she witnessed tours being conducted the day before Jan. 6.
"The tours being conducted on Tuesday, January 5, were a noticeable and concerning departure from the procedures in place in March of 2020 that limited the number of visitors to the Capitol," Sherill wrote. "These tours were so concerning they were reported to the Sargent (sic) at Arms on January 5."
Manger's letter says that the group of 15 people entered the Rayburn House Office building and was met by a Loudermilk staffer and then went to the congressman's office and then to the Cannon House Office Building basement.
"At no time did the group appear in any tunnels that would have led them to the U.S. Capitol. In addition, the tunnels leading to the U.S. Capitol were posted with USCP officers and admittance to the U.S. Capitol without a Member of Congress was not permitted on January 5, 2021," the letter said.
Manger says officers are trained to see anything suspicious and what individuals did on Loudermilk's tour was not.
"There is no evidence that Representative Loudermilk entered the U.S. Capitol with this group on January 5, 2021," he writes. "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."