The U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol says it has evidence that Georgia Congressman Barry Loudermilk led visitors on a tour of the complex the day before, and it wants him to talk about it.
The committee announced Thursday that it sent a letter to Loudermilk, a Cassville Republican, asking him to voluntarily sit for an interview next week.
“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,” the letter states.
Loudermilk and Rep. Rodney Davis, the ranking member on the House Administration Committee, released a joint statement Thursday describing the tour in question as innocent and overblown by the committee.
“A constituent family with young children meeting with their Member of Congress in the House Office Buildings is not a suspicious group or ‘reconnaissance tour,’ ” they wrote.
They went on to describe the Jan. 6 committee’s investigation as a “political circus” and said its members didn’t even give Loudermilk the benefit of receiving the letter first before releasing it to the public.
“The Select Committee is once again pushing a verifiably false narrative that Republicans conducted ‘reconnaissance tours’ on January 5th,” the statement said. “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.”
The letter to Loudermilk was signed by Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson and Republican U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, the committee’s chair and vice chair, respectively.
The new Congress had gaveled into session on Jan. 3, 2021, but the Capitol itself had been closed to the public for nearly a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Some members, however, were rumored to have skirted the rules and either personally escorted family and friends around the Capitol complex or authorized a member of their staff to do so.
The letter states that Loudermilk and other Republicans on the House Administration Committee have said that Democrats were politicizing the riot by accusing GOP members of hosting reconnaissance tours without evidence. Loudermilk was among the members who filed ethics complaints in May 2021 against Democrats who spoke about the alleged tours.
He said Wednesday that he still has those concerns and believes Democrats should release security footage from the days leading up to the riot, which he says will prove GOP members have been falsely accused.
Loudermilk has served in Congress since 2015. His seat extends from metro Atlanta into northwest Georgia. He does not have a primary opponent and is expected to easily win a fourth term in office in November in the conservative district.
Although the committee’s request to Loudermilk asks him to comply voluntarily, it could issue a subpoena if he does not do so. The panel has subpoenaed five other GOP House members, and so far, none of them has complied.
Another Georgia Republican, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Rome, has denied giving tours of the Capitol to Trump supporters in the days prior to the attack.
She was, however, the first member of Congress to testify in public and on the record about her actions in the days leading up to and on Jan. 6. But that was done via a challenge to her candidacy filed with elections officials in Georgia, not through the congressional committee investigating the attack.
Greene was among the GOP members who publicly supported then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 general election. She also helped promote his rally on Jan. 6 that preceded the Capitol riot.
During her daylong testimony, she repeatedly said she didn’t remember many of her remarks or actions leading up to the breach of the Capitol.
Greene’s Dalton-based district director, Travis Loudermilk, is Barry Loudermilk’s son.