Rep. Barry Loudermilk looked to clear his name, while taking shots at the Jan. 6 Select Committee, in the first release of findings as part of the House Administration Committee’s reinvestigation of the Capitol attack.
Loudermilk, who chairs the panel’s Oversight Subcommittee, was investigated by the select committee for allegedly giving a reconnaissance tour on Jan. 5, 2021, to a group of up to 15 people, some of whom took photos of stairwells, security checkpoints and entry points to the Capitol. At least one of those guests was present the next day during the attack, though Loudermilk contends no one on the tour entered the Capitol after it was breached.
The Georgia Republican, who is leading the committee’s inquiry into Jan. 6 and the select committee that probed it under Democratic leadership last Congress, released a set of letters, videos and a timeline of events on Tuesday — all of it focused on his own situation.
“As the subcommittee continues to go through over 2 million documents provided by the January 6th Select Committee, our initial review has found that their work was solely focused on pushing a pre-determined narrative and they selectively chose ‘facts’ to fit that narrative. I was the target of one of those narratives, when they accused me of giving a ‘reconnaissance tour,’” Loudermilk said in a statement accompanying the release.
But his Democratic colleagues characterized Loudermilk’s release as an attempt at revisionism as well as overstating the select committee’s view of his actions.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., who chaired the select committee, said on Wednesday that Loudermilk was never formally accused by the committee of any wrongdoing. The panel merely raised questions about his role in leading tours on the eve of the attack — and noted that Loudermilk declined to respond to those requests, Thompson said.
House Administration ranking member Joseph D. Morelle, D-N.Y., said in a statement in response to Loudermilk’s findings: “It is disappointing to see extremist Republicans on the committee once again attempt to rewrite history.”
‘Their work isn’t credible’
Records from the Jan. 6 select committee now fall within the purview of the House Administration Committee because of a provision in the Republican rules package for the 118th Congress that prevented the records from passing to the National Archives.
In possession of a trove of security footage and documents, the committee is free to relitigate the select committee’s findings, which Republicans have argued were overly partisan and didn’t look closely enough at the security failings that day.
Loudermilk spearheads that reinvestigation.
“We’ve uncovered documents that prove the committee knew that the allegation that I gave a ‘reconnaissance tour’ was verifiably false, yet continued to make public accusations and ultimately printed that lie in their final report,” Loudermilk said in his statement. “It’s clear their work isn’t credible, and they owe every individual whose reputation they attempted to smear an apology.”
He pointed to a June 2022 letter sent by Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger to Rodney Davis, the former Illinois Republican who was then-ranking member of the Committee on House Administration.
“There is no evidence that Representative Loudermilk entered the U.S. Capitol with this
group on January 5, 2021,” Manger wrote to Davis, though the subpoenaed testimony of one of the group members describes a day spent with the lawmaker, including a visit to his office and lunch at a Capitol cafeteria.
“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 continued.
Loudermilk also included “full footage” of one interaction he had with the tour group, at a point where the select committee alleged those on the tour took photos of the tunnel leading from a House office building to the Capitol. The security footage shows Loudermilk walk away from the group toward the tunnel as some members wave and take pictures. It’s evidence, according to Loudermilk, that the group was merely present to watch him leave to go vote.
Thompson defended the panel’s actions, noting that one of the men on Loudermilk’s tour was seen on social media on Jan. 6 shouting threats at lawmakers.
“The facts show that Representative Loudermilk led a tour of House Office Buildings the day before one of the darkest moments in American democracy that threatened those same places,” Thompson said. “Our colleagues were concerned and reported those tours — which were conducted when the buildings were otherwise closed to the public — to authorities, and the Select Committee also investigated.”
Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif., ranking member of the Oversight Subcommittee, expressed frustration in a statement Tuesday that she was not consulted about the findings.
“I find it unacceptable — but not surprising — the Republican majority has released these findings without previously sharing any information with the Democratic minority, including myself, my office, and the committee’s Democratic staff,” Torres said.
“We have not held any meetings, public or private, to discuss this process. Republicans have repeatedly ignored the security concerns of these actions,” Torres continued.