House Democrats call for investigation into ‘suspicious’ Capitol tours day before riot
A coalition of more than 30 House Democrats is calling for an investigation into “suspicious” Capitol tours that took place the day before last Wednesday’s deadly attack from a mob of Trump supporters.
The coalition led by Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) sent a letter to acting House Sergeant-At-Arms Timothy Bodgett, acting Senate Sergeant-At-Arms Jennifer Hemmingway, and acting Capitol Police chief Yogananda Pittman requesting an “immediate investigation into the suspicious behavior and access given to visitors to the Capitol Complex on Tuesday, January 5, 2021 — the day before the attacks on the Capitol.”
Today I joined with more than 30 of my colleagues in requesting an investigation from the Acting House SAA, Acting Senate SAA, and USCP into the suspicious behavior and access given to visitors to the Capitol Complex on Jan. 5, 2021 – the day before the attacks on the Capitol. pic.twitter.com/zpPUSUuSrj
— Rep. Mikie Sherrill (@RepSherrill) January 13, 2021
The lawmakers say that they witnessed an “an extremely high number of outside groups in the complex, on Jan. 5, which is unusual given that public tours of the Capitol ended in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.”
They also write that some of the visitors encountered by lawmakers “appeared to be associated” with the “Stop the Steal” rally that was held at the White House the next day, when Congress was certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the Electoral College.
“Members of the group that attacked the Capitol seemed to have an unusually detailed knowledge of the layout of the Capitol Complex. The presence of these groups within the Capitol Complex was indeed suspicious,” the lawmakers write.
“Given the events of January 6, the ties between these groups inside the Capitol Complex and the attacks on the Capitol need to be investigated,” they added.
The letter comes after Sherrill said Tuesday during a livestream on Facebook that she witnessed colleagues leading people on “reconnaissance tours” of the Capitol before the attack, which left five people dead and the building damaged.
She said she intends “to see that those members of Congress who abetted him; those members of Congress who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5 — a reconnaissance for the next day; those members of Congress that incited this violent crowd; those members of Congress that attempted to help our president undermine our democracy; I’m going to see they are held accountable, and if necessary, ensure that they don’t serve in Congress.”
Sherrill is not alone in her concerns about security at the Capitol complex in the lead up to the assault on the building.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s (D-Mass.) chief of staff Sarah Groh told The Boston Globe in an interview published Wednesday that all the panic buttons in Pressley’s office were removed before the attack.
A spokesperson for Pressley later told The Hill that the matter is being investigated.
The previous Capitol Police chief and House and Senate sergeants-at-arms all resigned after the breach.
The House is set to impeach President Trump later Wednesday over his role in inciting the rioters, and a growing list of corporations are cutting off donations to politicians who opposed the Electoral College results.