In the aftermath of the four-hour disturbance at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, Democrats scrambled to prepare articles of impeachment against departing President Donald Trump for the second time. Trump—according to Democrats, the news media, and most of the GOP political establishment—had incited the violence with claims of a stolen election, and by encouraging his supporters to march to Capitol Hill following his speech near the White House that afternoon.
But it wasn’t enough to just denounce Trump. After all, he would be leaving Washington on January 20 to build his post-presidency political machine. So House Democrats upped the blame and shame game by accusing their Republican colleagues of organizing tours of the Capitol complex on January 5 so the alleged coup-plotters could map out the next day’s “insurrection.”
Representative Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) started the rumor a week after the protest. In a letter to members of the Capitol Police board, the agency responsible for securing the Capitol, Sherrill demanded an “immediate investigation into the suspicious behavior and access given to visitors to the Capitol Complex on Tuesday, January 5, 2021.” Sherrill claimed her training in the military gave her the keen ability to “recognize suspicious activity” and questioned why so many large outside groups were in and around the building that day.
Nearly three-dozen House Democrats co-signed her letter.
Sherrill, a former Navy pilot, later explained in a video message on Facebook that she planned to hold accountable members of Congress who conducted what she described as “reconnaissance” tours on January 5. If necessary, she warned, Sherrill would somehow “make sure they don’t serve in Congress.” But the tough talker refused to name names at the time. Subsequently, Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) called for an ethics investigation into Sherrill for her unsubstantiated allegations.
None of it mattered to the media, of course, or congressional leadership. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made similar threats about holding Republicans accountable for “abetting” the so-called insurrection. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), now running for U.S. Senate in the Buckeye State, told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in February 2021 that the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia—the office handling the January 6 prosecution—was investigating “the idea of members of Congress taking people on tours.”
Capitol Police also announced an investigation into the claims.
But the inquiries would quickly encounter a major obstacle: Capitol Police officials purged most of the surveillance video captured by security cameras on January 5, 2021. According to an affidavit filed by the Capitol Police’s general counsel in March 2021, all footage is automatically deleted after 30 days without a specific request to preserve it. The department did, however, provide a “very limited number of video clips to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for an investigation related to potential January 5th incidents.”
Nonetheless, the disclosure bolstered the notion that Republican lawmakers were under criminal investigation for organizing “reconnaissance tours” the day before the protest.
Yet more than 16 months later, there is still no evidence to support Sherrill’s shocking allegations. If video existed that showed a Republican House member or Senator leading a personal excursion through the building on January 5, the American people would have watched it on a constant loop at CNN and MSNBC by now, prompting widespread calls for resignations. Further, of the more than 800 Americans currently charged for their participation in the protest, not a single defendant is accused of casing the Capitol building alongside a Republican lawmaker on January 5, 2021 in advance of the alleged crime.
That isn’t stopping the January 6 Select Committee from attempting to salvage the phony narrative. Committee members last week accused Loudermilk, the same congressman who demanded the ethics investigation last year, of leading a tour “through parts of the Capitol complex on January 5, 2021.” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the committee, and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) claimed Loudermilk’s alleged “tour” contradicted an earlier statement by House Republicans that “[t]here were no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on” that day. They want Loudermilk to sit for an interview.
Loudermilk called the accusation “verifiably false.” He met with a constituent family, including young children, in his office that day.
“The facts speak for themselves; no place that the family went on the 5th was breached on the 6th, the family did not enter the Capitol grounds on the 6th, and no one in that family has been investigated or charged in connection to January 6th,” Loudermilk said in a May 19 statement. He and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) also asked Capitol Police to release all footage in its possession. (The department also possesses 14,000 hours of surveillance video from January 6, which is under strict protective orders and designated “highly sensitive government material” by the Department of Justice.)
The “reconnaissance tour” storyline is yet another lie perpetuated by Democrats and the news media related to the events of January 6. Just like the falsehoods that Officer Brian Sicknick was killed by Trump supporters; Kamala Harris was in the building during the protest; Capitol Police were not involved in allowing people inside; or that a mysterious man planted pipe bombs near Capitol grounds the night before, to name a few, no Republican lawmaker led scores of would-be protesters around the building on January 5 to scope out the territory.
As I ask over and over, if January 6 was so horrific, comparable to 9/11 and other deadly terror attacks, why do they keep lying about what happened?