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GOP lawmaker asked to testify on suspected ‘recon’ tour ahead of Jan. 6 insurrection

Congressional committee suspects that some of those who were with Georgia Rep. Barry Loudermilk on Jan. 5 engaged in efforts to gather information about the layout of the Capitol

Police hold off violent insurrections loyal to then-US president Donald Trump as they try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021. (Julio Cortez/AP)
Police hold off violent insurrections loyal to then-US president Donald Trump as they try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021. (Julio Cortez/AP)

The congressional committee investigating the US Capitol insurrection is asking a House Republican for more information about a tour of the building the panel says he led the day before the deadly attack.

The committee’s letter to Georgia Rep. Barry Loudermilk on Thursday is the latest attempt by House investigators to obtain cooperation from GOP lawmakers in the probe of the January 6, 2021 attack, Supporters of then-US president Donald Trump violently broke into the Capitol that day and interrupted the certification of US President Joe Biden’s victory.

“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,“ wrote Reps. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the chairman and vice-chairwoman of the committee.

“Public reporting and witness accounts indicate some individuals and groups engaged in efforts to gather information about the layout of the US Capitol, as well as the House and Senate office buildings” in advance of the insurrection, they wrote.

The voluntary request comes as the panel has already conducted more than 1,000 interviews about the insurrection and as it prepares for a series of hearings in June.

Loudermilk’s cooperation aims to explain how some Trump supporters who took part in the attack appeared to know the layout of the Capitol, with Democrats raising concerns over the fact that rioters were able to easily locate hideaway offices and the complex’s underground tunnel network.

Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Georgia, listens to a speaker at a press conference, May 4, 2021, in Marietta, Ga. (AP Photo/Ron Harris, File)

But so far there has been no public evidence of that assistance.

The letter to Loudermilk said that Republicans on a separate panel, the House Administration Committee, had previously said they reviewed security footage from January 5 and said there were “no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on.” Loudermilk is a member of that panel.

But the January 6 committee’s review of the evidence “directly contradicts that denial,” Thompson and Cheney wrote.

That earlier assessment by GOP members came after three dozen Democrats sent a letter to the committee days after the attack citing alleged sightings of “unusually large” groups led by either Republican lawmakers or their staff in the days leading up to the attack.

In a statement Thursday, Loudermilk said the January 5 tour was with a constituent family and took place in the House office buildings and not inside the Capitol building itself

“We call on Capitol Police to release the tapes,” Loudermilk and Rep. Rodney Davis, the ranking member of the House administration committee, wrote in a joint response to the letter.

Last year, Loudermilk filed an ethics complaint against Democratic representatives who alleged Republicans had given reconnaissance tours.

“No Republican member of Congress led any kind of ‘reconnaissance’ tours through the Capitol, proven by security footage captured by the US Capitol police,” Loudermilk wrote in his complaint.

The request for Loudermilk to testify comes a week after the panel issued subpoenas to five Republican members, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, April 6, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The decision to issue subpoenas to McCarthy and Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Mo Brooks of Alabama was a dramatic show of force by the panel, which has already interviewed nearly 1,000 witnesses and collected more than 100,000 documents as it investigates the worst attack on the Capitol in two centuries.

The five Republicans, all of whom have repeatedly downplayed the investigation’s legitimacy, have yet to say whether they will comply.

In total, the committee has now publicly requested cooperation from at least eight lawmakers it believes have information crucial to the planning and execution of the attack and Trump’s potential role in inciting it.

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