ATLANTA — The Jan. 6 Committee on Wednesday released video of a tour led by metro Atlanta Congressman Barry Loudermilk the day before the 2021 Capitol riots, and issued a new letter asking him to meet with the committee and saying the video "raises questions."
Loudermilk represents Georgia's 11th District, which mostly covers parts of Cobb, Bartow and Cherokee counties. He has previously declined to meet with the Jan. 6 Committee to answer questions, and said the tour he gave on Jan. 5, 2021 was "not (with) a suspicious group or 'reconnaissance tour.'"
The tour went through parts of the Capitol complex - the House Office Buildings - and to the entrances of the Capitol tunnel system. Loudermilk has said it was with a constituent family and did not enter the Capitol itself, which the committee does not appear to dispute.
In a letter to Loudermilk, the Jan. 6 Committee highlighted that "individuals on the tour photographed and recorded areas of the complex not typically of interest to tourists, including hallways, staircases and security checkpoints."
The Capitol Police chief, J. Thomas Manger, earlier this week issued a letter stating that it was not his belief there was anything suspicious about the tour, which consisted of about 12 people and later grew to 15 people.
"There is no evidence that Representative Loudermilk entered the U.S. Capitol with this group on January 5, 2021. We train our officers on being alert for people conducting surveillance or reconnaissance, and we do not consider any of the activities we observed as suspicious," it stated.
In a statement, Loudermilk's office said the Capitol Police "already put this false accusation to bed."
"Yet the Committee is undermining the Capitol Police and doubling down on their smear campaign, releasing so-called evidence of a tour of the House Office Buildings, which I have already publicly addressed. As Capitol Police confirmed, nothing about this visit with constituents was suspicious. The pictures show children holding bags from the House gift shop, which was open to visitors, and taking pictures of the Rayburn train," the congressman said. "This false narrative that the Committee and Democrats continue to push, that Republicans, including myself, led reconnaissance tours is verifiably false. No where that I went with the visitors in the House Office Buildings on January 5th were breached on January 6th; and, to my knowledge, no one in that group was criminally charged in relation to January 6th."
Loudermilk added: "Once again, the Committee released this letter to the press, and did not contact me. This type of behavior is irresponsible and has real consequences -- including ongoing death threats to myself, my family, and my staff."
That letter by the Capitol Police chief adds that the group spent "approximately five minutes" at a series of exhibits in the basement of the Cannon House Office Building and that Loudermilk then left the group.
"At no time did the group appear in any tunnels that would have led them to the U.S. Capitol," it states. "In addition, the tunnels leading to the U.S. Capitol were posted with USCP officers and admittance to the U.S. Capitol without a Member of Congress was not permitted on January 5, 2021."
The new video from the Jan. 6 Committee nonetheless highlighted the alleged participation by one of the tour-goers in the riots, at least outside the Capitol, the next day.
The committee said the tour-goer "filmed a companion with a flagpole appearing to have a sharpened end" and made threats in the video to Democratic lawmakers, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Rep. Jarrold Nadler.
"There’s no escape Pelosi, Schumer, Nadler. We’re coming for you," the tour-goer said on video.
The video does not show the tour-goer ever entering the Capitol, nor does the committee claim he did. Loudermilk has said in a previous statement that "no place the family went on the 5th was breached on the 6th, the family did not enter Capitol grounds on the 6th, and no one in that family has been investigated or charged in connection to January 6th."
It's not clear if the other individual with the flagpole filmed by the tour-goer ever entered the Capitol.
The committee says in its letter to Loudermilk that "public reporting and witness accounts indicate some individuals and groups engaged in efforts to gather information about the layout of the U.S. Capitol, as well as the House and Senate office buildings, in advance of January 6, 2021," and that law enforcement was urged to "investigate sightings of 'outside groups in the complex' on January 5, 2021, that 'appeared to be associated with the rally at the White House the following day.'"
The letter notes the committee's review of the surveillance footage of Loudermilk's tour "is consistent with those observations," and states: "We again ask you to meet with the Select Committee at your earliest convenience."
In comments outside his office Wednesday, Loudermilk said he would "have been glad to talk to them about it because there's nothing, there's nothing there" but said he was never sent the letter personally or called by the committee.
"They sent it to you guys," he told reporters.
"Never received a letter, never received a phone call, never received an email. I found out about it on my way to the airport a month ago, so when I get on the plane I see my picture on TV screens all over the plane as some kind of evil conspirator," he said. "That tells me they're not interested in the truth, they're only interested in creating a narrative for you guys (the media)."
Asked if the threats in the video by the tour-goer were appropriate, Loudermilk said "absolutely not" and referred to himself as a victim of "violence of somebody deranged by political rhetoric" when a man attacked a practice for the Congressional Baseball Game in 2017, shooting and injuring Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise.
"I'm totally opposed, and I condemn that kind of language, but no one in that group showed that kind of aggression that day," Loudermilk said.