Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger said the activities of a group of Georgia Republican Rep. Barry Loudermilk’s constituents who visited the complex the day before the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack were not suspicious.
The group never entered the Capitol on the day of the riot and, in fact, turned away from the complex sensing trouble, Loudermilk told CQ Roll Call.
In May, the Jan. 6 select committee asked Loudermilk to voluntarily cooperate with its investigation about the group. The panel said it had evidence that Loudermilk led a tour through parts of the Capitol complex.
Manger wrote to Loudermilk’s colleague, House Administration ranking member Rodney Davis, R-Ill., and said “there is no evidence” Loudermilk entered the Capitol with the group on Jan. 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,” Manger said in the letter, dated June 13.
The group hosted by Loudermilk inside House office buildings on Jan. 5, 2021, came to Washington for Trump’s Jan. 6 "Stop the Steal" rally on the Ellipse and considered going to the Capitol on Jan. 6 — but ultimately decided not to, Loudermilk said in an interview Tuesday.
“So they were there for the rally at the Ellipse,” Loudermilk said of the group. A few of them wore red Trump-aligned hats, he added.
When the riot started, Loudermilk said his team checked in with the family to see if they were OK and that they were getting on the bus to go home by then. Loudermilk added none were involved in the Capitol riot.
“They said they thought about coming to the Capitol, so they started walking down the [National] Mall and they were seeing some of the sights and they saw some stuff going on didn't look right, so they all turned and left,” Loudermilk said. “So none of them were involved in this.”
“None at all” were on the Capitol grounds Jan. 6, he said.
Shortly after the insurrection, numerous Democratic members, led by Rep. Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, asked those in charge of Capitol security to investigate sightings of “outside groups in the complex” on Jan. 5 who they said “appeared to be associated with the rally at the White House” on Jan. 6.
Loudermilk posted a video on YouTube shortly after the committee asked for information from him in which he said, on Jan. 5, he took “a family with young children and their guest” who were visiting Washington to lunch in a House office building cafeteria, some of whom were wearing red baseball caps.
He added there was “nothing unusual or nefarious” about the interaction.
Manger, the Capitol Police chief, said in his letter that Loudermilk’s group of constituents — around 12 people, which later grew to 15 — entered the Rayburn House Office Building at 11 a.m. on Jan. 5, 2021, and was met by a staffer before heading in the direction of Loudermilk’s office.
At 1 p.m., cameras picked up the group as they entered the Cannon House Office Building basement from the direction of the Longworth House Office Building cafeteria. They spent a few minutes at an exhibit in the Cannon basement.
Davis told conservative media outlet Just the News that the letter serves as evidence no Republicans led a "reconnaissance tour" before the Capitol riot.
"This is proof that no Republican, even the one they accused just a few weeks ago — Barry Loudermilk who serves on my committee — he did not take anyone on a reconnaissance tour and, frankly, the Democrats need to be ashamed of themselves," Davis said.
Loudermilk knew the family, which he met at a church, adding they volunteered on his campaign. A couple weeks prior, the family told Loudermilk’s office they were going to come to Washington, D.C., and asked to visit Loudermilk at his office.
The family then told Loudermilk’s staff there would be “some other folks from Georgia that rode the bus up with us,” and asked if they could also meet Loudermilk. The lawmaker said they were all from his district.
'What does all this mean?'
Loudermilk said he and his guests discussed the legislative process and what would happen on Jan. 6. “Some of it was, you know, what is actually going to happen on the sixth? What does this all mean?,” he said.
When asked if the group had any questions about whether the 2020 presidential election was stolen, Loudermilk said: “I don't recall. I think most people were questioning at that point as I had said, look, there's — I imagine that there was. I can't remember any of the details there.”
Several other members had constituents come to the House office buildings on Jan. 5, according to Loudermilk.
He noted that Manger’s letter dispels the allegations the Jan. 6 panel has made.
“It’s the dispelling whatever evidence the Jan. 6 committee claimed that they had that there was reconnaissance tours,” Loudermilk said of Manger’s letter.
The Georgia lawmaker said his office has not gotten any letter or email from the Jan. 6 committee asking him to be interviewed. He said, at this point, he would not talk to the committee.
Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., a member of the Jan. 6 select committee, said Tuesday he didn't read the Manger letter and that he wants to “show the video” footage.
Aguilar added that "tours were not authorized at that time and there were many individuals in and around the Capitol complex who talked a lot about violence in those times."