Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger on Tuesday defended his department against allegations it inappropriately investigated a member of Congress’ office, saying an officer acted with vigilance.
Manger’s statement came shortly after Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, posted on Twitter that the Capitol Police investigated his office “illegally.” An officer took a photo of a whiteboard in Nehls’ office, which Nehls and some Republican members took issue with.
The weekend before Thanksgiving, a Capitol Police officer saw that Nehls’ office door was left “wide open,” Manger said in a statement, adding that if a member’s office is vacant, left open and unsecured, “officers are directed to document that and secure the office to ensure nobody can wander in and steal or do anything else nefarious.”
On that following Monday, Capitol Police personnel followed up with Nehls’ staff and determined there was no need for investigation or further action, according to Manger.
“No case investigation was ever initiated or conducted into the Representative or his staff,” Manger said.
Nehls, a former county sheriff, told the story differently in his tweet thread Tuesday morning. He said on Nov. 20, 2021, the Capitol Police entered his office without his knowledge and photographed “confidential legislative products protected by the Speech and Debate clause” of the Constitution.
Two days later, on Monday, Nov. 22, three department intelligence officers tried to enter Nehls’ office. Nehls said that upon discovering that one of his staffers was present, the Capitol Police special agents, who he says were dressed like construction workers, questioned the staffer on the contents of a photograph that was taken. Nehls said the department never told him nor senior staff of “their investigation.”
In January 2021, Nehls voted to overturn certain 2020 presidential election results. He was subsequently selected by House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy as one of his five picks for the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. When Speaker Nancy Pelosi blocked Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Jim Banks, R-Ind., from serving on the panel, McCarthy removed all of his roster, including Nehls.
Nehls suggested the Capitol Police leadership is “maliciously investigating” him because he has been critical of the select committee, Pelosi and Capitol Police leadership. He also called for the department to release the photo taken in his office.
“The issue is not whether or not the officer entered the office legally, the issue was the ‘vigilant’ officer in question took a photo of private Congressional material that is protected under Article I Section 6 of the speech and debate clause in the US constitution,” Francesca Granato, a spokesperson for Nehls, said in a statement. “Imagine leaving your front door open and police officers enter your private home, take pictures of the inside, and then open a criminal investigation based on those pictures.”
“How can Chief Manger issue a statement, and fail to mention the photograph that was illegally taken?,” Granato added.
Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis, who is the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, which has oversight of the Capitol Police, said “I mean, the bottom line is it’s a white board in a member of Congress’ office. How in the world did that deserve a police report?” He added it was “concerning” and that Nehls was not notified.