In case you haven’t heard, the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol announced yesterday that it’s seeking to speak with Rep. Barry Loudermilk. Other lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, have been subpoenaed by the Select Committee. However, Chairman Bennie Thompson and Vice Chair Liz Cheney wrote in a letter to Loudermilk that they are seeking his “voluntary cooperation.”
Why does the Select Committee want to talk to Loudermilk? Thompson and Cheney wrote to Loudermilk, “Based on our review of evidence in the Select Committee’s possession, we believe you have information regarding a tour you led through parts of the Capitol complex on January 5, 2021.” Obviously, this is the day before insurrection at the Capitol.
The use of the term “Capitol complex” is telling. The Capitol was closed to tours between March 2020 and March 2022. In fact, Politico Huddle noted this morning that today marks the second phase of the reopen, which includes the expansion of tours. The Capitol complex is quite large and includes not only the Capitol Building, but also House and Senate office buildings.
Loudermilk and House Administration Committee Ranking Member Rodney Davis slammed the Select Committee in a joint release on Thursday and demanded the release of surveillance footage in which they said that Loudermilk hadn’t received a copy of the letter from Thompson and Cheney, apparently before it was reported by the media.
“A constituent family with young children meeting with their Member of Congress in the House Office Buildings is not a suspicious group or ‘reconnaissance tour.’ The family never entered the Capitol building,” Loudermilk and Davis said. “The 1/6 political circus released the letter to the press before even notifying Mr. Loudermilk, who has still not received a copy. The Select Committee is once again pushing a verifiably false narrative that Republicans conducted ‘reconnaissance tours’ on January 5th. The facts speak for themselves; no place that the family went on the 5th was breached on the 6th, the family did not enter the Capitol grounds on the 6th, and no one in that family has been investigated or charged in connection to January 6th.”
Loudermilk filed an ethics complaint against 34 House Democrats who alleged that they saw some House Republicans give reconnaissance tours of the Capitol in the days preceding the insurrection.
Loudermilk took it a step further today by releasing a more than two-minute video in which he explains that he “took a family with young children and their guests who were visiting Washington to lunch in a cafeteria in one of the House office buildings.” (The Longworth House Office Building has a rather large cafeteria, and the food isn’t bad.) Loudermilk noted that some in group were wearing “red baseball caps.”
“[T]here was nothing unusual or nefarious about this family’s visit to see their Congressman. But did anyone on the committee call and ask? No, they did not. Did they send me any correspondence asking about this? No, they didn’t,” Loudermilk said. “Instead, they send an accusatory letter out to the media so me, my wife, and the entire world would learn about this while we were traveling home to Georgia.”
Loudermilk said that he has received violent threats and that law enforcement is watching his offices and his family because of the Select Committee’s letter.
Anyone who knows me is aware that I’ve been generally supportive of the Select Committee’s efforts. I think it was a mistake for Republicans to protest the creation of a bipartisan committee because Democratic leadership would forge ahead with exactly what the House created. Answers for what happened on January 6, 2021 and accountability are needed, but the Select Committee has acted wholly inappropriately in its targeting of Loudermilk. Perhaps some answers and accountability are needed from the Select Committee considering that its actions have led to threats against Loudermilk, his family, and his staff.