More than 30 House Democrats signed a letter suggesting several Republican colleagues may have aided Capitol rioters by providing them with tours of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 5 but have yet to flesh out their accusations, following inquiries from Fox News.
House Democrats on Wednesday requested an immediate probe into “suspicious behavior” and access that they claimed was given to visitors at the U.S. Capitol a day before the riot. Thirty-four lawmakers led by Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J. — who first went public with the “reconnaissance” tour claims — urged the Capitol Police and the acting House and Senate sergeants-at-arms to look into the matter in a letter.
“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 on Tuesday.
Fox News reached out to dozens of lawmakers for comment.
Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind., signed the letter and told Fox News he believes his and Sherrill’s concerns “must be fully investigated.”
“While I did not see everything that Congresswoman Sherrill witnessed, but after speaking with her, I was very alarmed by her description of what she witnessed and described,” Carson told Fox News in a statement. “Added to my own observations, I believe these concerns must be fully investigated.”
The letter does not name any members or staff who may have led the alleged “reconnaissance” tours, as Sherrill described them, or give more detail on why the visitors appeared suspicious.
“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,” the lawmakers 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.”
Rep. Kim Schrier, D-Wash., who did not sign the letter, told Cheddar’s J.D. Durkin that protesters who entered the Capitol seemed to have inside knowledge of the Capitol building.
“The perpetrators, terrorists were able to find locations in the Capitol that I probably could not find,” she said.
House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., backed that up in an interview with CBS News, noting that there had been “activity outside of my inner office where most people don’t know where that is.”
“The office with my name on the door was not touched,” Clyburn added. “But the office where I do most of my work in, they were on that floor and outside that door.”
Clyburn said that “somebody on the inside of those buildings were complicit in this,” recalling that he heard reports that congressional staff saw protesters being let in through side doors.
Fox News reached out to Clyburn’s office, but it did not immediately respond.
Schrier, however, had no problem wagering a general guess as to who could have been involved regarding the visits the day before the riot.
“The fact that there were any tours going on in a Capitol during a COVID pandemic when nobody is allowed unless they are personally escorted in by a member of Congress,” she said, “suggests that if there was insider knowledge, that some of my colleagues may have been co-conspirators.”
Some Republican members of Congress who have been staunch allies of President Trump pushed back on this.
Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., caught heat for speaking at the “Save America” rally in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, but his office told Fox News that he hasn’t given a tour since last year.
“Congressman Brooks has not conducted any tours of the Capitol since Capitol access was severely restricted in Winter/Spring 2020 timeframe due to COVID-19 and regular Capitol tours were discontinued,” a spokesman for Brooks told Fox News.
Freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert, who was criticized for tweeting “Today is 1776” hours before the U.S. Capitol was stormed, told Fox News she also has not given tours to members of the public.
“Due to COVID-19, I have not given any Capitol tours except to show my children around where I’ll be working while I’m away from home,” Boebert said in a statement on Thursday.
Fox News’ David Aaro contributed to this report.