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Loudermilk tour group taking basement photos 'raises concerns' for Jan. 6 panel

POLITICO logo POLITICO 6/15/2022 By Nicholas Wu and Kyle Cheney
Rep. Barry Loudermilk listens to a speaker at a press conference. © Ron Harris/AP Photo Rep. Barry Loudermilk listens to a speaker at a press conference.

People who joined Georgia GOP Rep. Barry Loudermilk for a Capitol complex tour on Jan. 5, 2021 photographed and recorded places “not typically of interest to tourists, including hallways, staircases, and security checkpoints,” according to materials released Wednesday by the Jan. 6 select committee.

“The behavior of these individuals during the January 5, 2021 tour raises concerns about their activity and intent while inside the Capitol complex,” panel chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) wrote in a letter to Loudermilk, renewing their request for testimony.

The video footage and new details released by the panel underscored lawmaker concerns that surfaced in the days after the Jan. 6 attack: that large tour groups appeared to surveil areas of the building a day before a violent mob smashed its way inside the Capitol. The select committee has evidence that at least one member of Loudermilk’s group returned to the Capitol the following day and recorded an ominous video message aimed at Democratic lawmakers.

“There’s no escape Pelosi, Schumer, Nadler. We’re coming for you,” the person said near the Capitol grounds, according to the video, released by the committee Wednesday. One member of Loudermilk's tour group photographed an image of the plaque outside Nadler’s office, an image released by the panel as well.

Loudermilk has not been accused of any wrongdoing or having knowledge about the activities of any members of his group on Jan. 6, beyond their attendance at the rally that preceded the riot, headlined by Donald Trump.

In a statement, Loudermilk said the Capitol Police had already settled the matter: "As Capitol Police confirmed, nothing about this visit with constituents was suspicious."


Video: New video highlights Loudermilk inconsistencies on pre-Jan. 6 tours (MSNBC)

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told POLITICO the panel's disclosure was "just more of the Jan. 6 [committee] going after political folks."

Republicans have pointed to a recent letter from Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger characterizing the group’s behavior on Jan. 5 as benign, but the footage released by the select committee shows a more nuanced version of events.

In one clip, a man appears to photograph a staircase in the basement of the Longworth House Office Building. Security cameras caught another subset of the tour group taking photos and videos near a security checkpoint in the basement.

Though the man, who remains unidentified, appears to have returned to the Capitol on Jan. 6, there’s no indication he’s been investigated for any potential crimes related to his conduct that day. Punchbowl News first reported the man's presence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, following the Loudermilk tour. The Georgia Republican told reporters later Wednesday he did not know the man captured on the security footage taking pictures of the staircase, nor had he ever met him before.

"Most of the people who come to our office — they're constituents, you don't know them, they've never been around. To us, [Jan. 5] was just another day," he said.

Capitol Police confirmed that Loudermilk brought a group of 12 people into the House office buildings on Jan. 5 at about 11 a.m., a tour that later grew to 15 people. The group remained in the complex for about two hours, even after Loudermilk had left. The new footage shows Loudermilk with members of the group as they walked through those buildings.

The Capitol Police declined to comment besides restating that they are cooperating with the select committee.

Olivia Beavers contributed to this report

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