Live Updates: Trump Impeachment
Mikie Sherrill first raised alarms that some members of Congress may have provided “reconnaissance” tours to would-be insurrectionists.
By KYLE CHENEY and SARAH FERRIS
01/12/2021 11:27 PM EST
Updated: 01/13/2021 03:20 PM EST
More than 30 House Democrats are demanding information from Capitol security officials about "suspicious" visitors at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 5 — a day before violent insurrectionists swarmed the building — that would only have been permitted entry by a member of Congress or a staffer.
"Many of the Members who signed this letter … witnessed an extremely high number of outside groups in the complex on Tuesday, January 5,” wrote the lawmakers, led by Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), in a letter to the acting House and Senate sergeants-at-arms, as well as the acting head of the Capitol Police.
The lawmakers, some of who "have served in the military and are trained to recognize suspicious activity," noted that Capitol tours have been prohibited since March as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and they said the tours were so unusual that they were reported to security on Jan. 5, ahead of the following day’s violence.
"The visitors encountered by some of the Members of Congress on this letter appeared to be associated with the rally at the White House the following day," they wrote. "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."
They are asking the security officials to reveal whether any logbooks of visitors are available and if they include names of those admitted to the building by lawmakers. They also ask whether any law enforcement agencies have requested similar information and what limits Capitol security officials apply to visitors brought in by members.
As the nation reels from a violent insurrection and a devastating pandemic, President Trump has become the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. So how did we get here?
Sherrill first raised alarms Tuesday that some members of Congress may have provided "reconnaissance" tours to would-be insurrectionists.
In a 13-minute Facebook video billed as an address to her constituents about the House’s efforts to hold President Donald Trump accountable for inciting the riot, Sherrill included the allegation as part of a call to hold Trump’s allies in Congress accountable as well.
"I also intend 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 for reconnaissance for the next day — those members of Congress who incited the violent crowd, those members of Congress that attempted to help our president undermine our democracy, I’m going see that they’re held accountable," Sherrill said.
Sherrill did not identify the lawmakers she was referring to, how she was able to describe their activities as "reconnaissance" and how she knew they were connected to the riots that consumed the Capitol the following day. She told POLITICO on Wednesday that she’s referred her information to authorities.
"We’re requesting an investigation right now with certain agencies," she said.
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said he’s aware of "a couple" names of colleagues who are being eyed as potentially giving tours to the would-be insurrectionists. But he said he wouldn’t name them yet.
"I’m going to wait to make sure we get verification," Ryan told a reporter at the Capitol Wednesday.
Ryan said the information was passed to authorities as early as last Wednesday night. He said it involved "handfuls" of people who were escorted through the Capitol. Enough to know that these weren’t "one-on-one" tours or "a small family."
"You look back on certain things and you look at it differently," he added.
The startling allegation comes as lawmakers are still seeking answers about the extent of planning and coordination behind the Jan. 6 Trump rally that became the violent assault on the Capitol. Federal investigators say they’re pouring enormous resources into unearthing details of a potential "seditious conspiracy" and that some of the undisclosed evidence about what happened inside the Capitol will be "shocking."
Some Democrats, like Sherrill, are also calling for punishment for the Republicans who — like Trump — delivered incendiary remarks that preceded the violence at the Capitol, as well as others who joined Trump’s effort to delegitimize the 2020 presidential election.
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