GOP Rep. Clyde defends 'normal tourist visit' comparison for Jan. 6

GOP Rep. Andrew Clyde (Ga.) defended his description of rioters walking through the Capitol on Jan. 6 appearing to look like a “normal tourist visit” during a committee meeting on Tuesday.

The heated exchange occurred hours after four police officers appeared before the select committee probing the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, offering harrowing testimony that recounted scenes of chaos, violence and destruction from the insurrection.

Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinHouse progressives urge Garland to intervene in ex-environmental lawyer Steven Donziger's case Trump allies leaning on his executive privilege claims Oversight panel eyes excessive bail, jail overcrowding in New York City MORE (D-Md.), a member of the select panel, confronted Clyde during a Rules Committee meeting about his previous comments regarding the insurrection, in which he said people “would actually think it was a normal tourist visit” if they had not known the footage was from Jan. 6.

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“Do you stand by your statement that they were tourists?” Raskin asked Clyde.

 

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The GOP lawmaker, however, refused to answer the question, claiming that Raskin had read an “interpretation” of his statement.

Raskin then recited Clyde’s statement in full: “Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes, taking videos and pictures. You know, if you didn’t know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.”

“Those are your words,” Raskin continued.

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“And I stand by that exact statement, as I said it,” Clyde responded.

During the select committee hearing earlier Tuesday, several lawmakers had asked officers about comparisons made between the rioters and normal tourists.

Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges repeatedly referred to the rioters as “terrorists” throughout his testimony when recounting his experience of defending the Capitol.

When asked by Raskin during that hearing why he used the term “terrorists” to refer to the rioters, Hodges read directly from the U.S. code for domestic terrorism.

Raskin pressed Clyde over the topic in the Rules Committee hearing later Tuesday evening, with the exchange growing tense at several moments and the chairman of the committee, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), interrupting at points to ask the lawmakers to lower their voices.

“I spent several hours today, with millions of Americans, watching sworn police officers testify about their battle to defend our lives, the members of the House and the senators. And they took issue, not with, let's put your statement aside, because you think that you've been misinterpreted by people, but they're taking issue with an internet meme that the people here were just tourists, it was a normal day, and they were saying they weren't tourists. They were terrorists," Raskin said.

"How do you react to that?” he asked Clyde.

“I am not responsible for an internet meme, OK. We are here to discuss this amendment, Mr. Raskin,” Clyde responded, before being cut off by the Maryland Democrat.

“OK, so you don't want to answer your question, I appreciate that, I wouldn't want to answer it if I said what you said,” Raskin interjected.

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“We are here to discuss this amendment and you're obviously not interested in that, you want to make this another Jan. 6 hearing and this is not,” Clyde responded.

Hodges and three other law enforcement officers testified before the select committee earlier Tuesday in the panel's first hearing on the Jan. 6 riot.

The officers, from the D.C. police department and Capitol Police, provided somber personal accounts of their experience on Jan. 6, including describing physical and psychological injuries that they endured.