The House Democratic Whip is charging that sitting lawmakers gave inside help to MAGA mob rioters – as a group of Democratic lawmakers is demanding to know how rioters appeared to gain ‘unusually detailed knowledge’ of the Capitol they ransacked.
Rep. James C. Clyburn of South Carolina is pointing to rioters who located his own unmarked office, as well as ‘tours’ that several Democrats say GOP lawmakers provided in advance of the January 6 riot.
‘Well, it seems to me that something was going on – some coordination was going on between sitting members of Congress and some of these called visitors to the Capitol,’ Clyburn said.
A group of House Democrats, led by Rep. Mikie Sherrill (N.J.), have written Capitol Police demanding the identities of people who toured Capitol facilities the day before the riot – along with any information on the members who brought them there. Sherrill is a former Navy helicopter pilot who ultimately helped rally support for the first Trump impeachment.
The lawmakers are seeking answers to a series of questions about procedures for public admittance to the Capitol – with an eye toward identifying who was in the building Jan. 5 and what lawmakers may have gotten them in.
Rep. James C. Clyburn, the House Democratic whip, said there was coordination ‘between sitting members of Congress’ and those who ransacked the Capitol
‘Many of the Members who signed this letter, including those of us who have served in the military and are trained to recognize suspicious activity, as well as various members of our staff, witnessed an extremely high number of outside groups in the complex on Tuesday, January 5,’ they wrote. The letter was signed by 34 lawmakers.
They called the tours ‘noticeable and concerning’ and said rioters the following day seemed to have ‘unusually detailed knowledge’ of the building.
‘This is unusual for several reasons, including the fact that access to the Capitol Complex has been restricted since public tours ended in March of last year due to the pandemic. The tours being conducted on Tuesday, January 5, were a noticeable and concerning departure from the procedures in place as of March 2020 that limited the number of visitors to the Capitol.’
They say the tours were ‘so concerning’ that they were reported to the Sergeant at Arms the day before the riot.
‘The visitors encountered by some of the Members of Congress on this letter appeared to be associated with the rally at the White House the following day. That group left the White House and marched to the Capitol with the objective of preventing Congress from certifying our election. Members of the group that attacked the Capitol seemed to have an unusually detailed knowledge of the layout of the Capitol Complex. The presence of these groups within the Capitol Complex was indeed suspicious. Given the events of January 6, the ties between these groups inside the Capitol Complex and the attacks on the Capitol need to be investigated,’ they wrote.
The members went on to ask detailed questions bout the system for tracking Capitol visitors.
‘Are there video logs of the day in question?’ they demanded to know. ‘Is facial recognition software used for visitors entering the complex?’
‘I’ve been listening to my colleagues and watching many of their interviews on television and many of them saw things going on the day before that led them to believe that something was amiss,’ Clyburn added.
His comments, aired on NPR Thursday, comes after Sarah Groh, the chief of staff to Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), revealed panic buttons were ‘torn out’ of the ‘squad’ member’s congressional office.
Both Clyburn and Pressley are members of the Congressional Black Caucus and prominent nationally.
‘Panic’ buttons removed
During the riots, Pressley’s office staff were barricading themselves behind their office door for protection, when they began looking for specially installed panic buttons. Pressley has them throughout the office after encountering threats since her election two years ago as part of the ‘squad.’
‘Every panic button in my office had been torn out – the whole unit,’ Groh said.
Clyburn has raised questions about how people who breached the Capitol had located his unmarked office inside the sprawling Capitol.
‘Now I do know my own office where I do most of my work is unmarked, it’s on a different floor from the office where it is designated as my office. Nobody bothered the door that was designated to be mine – but they showed up at my office where I do most of my work. It seems to me that they had knowledge of where I cold be found,’ he said.
Clyburn’s leadership office, he is the party whip and Number Three leader, is marked with a wood plaque.
Protesters enter the U.S. Capitol Building on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. The riot that ensued resulted in six deaths
MAGA mob: President Trump did not use the speech to acknowledge any responsibility for the desecration of the Capitol for which he is being impeached, but came closer than before by saying to his supporters of violence and lawbreaking: ‘If you do any of this you do not support our movement.’
Pre-riot tours of people ‘casing the joint’
Clyburn alluded to comments by other House Democrats who have reported seeing what they identified suspicious activity by fellow lawmakers in advance of the riots.
Rep. Mikie Sherill said there were lawmakers ‘who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5, a reconnaissance for the next day,’ she said. ‘I’m going to see that they’re held accountable and, if necessary, ensure that they don’t serve in Congress,’ she added in a Facebook live post.
‘Their accomplices in this House will be held responsible,’ said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the House Judiciary Chairman, during the impeachment debate Wednesday.
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who chairs the subcommittee which oversees Capitol Police, said the names of lawmakers allegedly providing ‘reconnaissance’ were provided to authorities.
He said there were fears Republican lawmakers gave tours to visitors who were ‘casing the joint’ – and that groups getting tours involved ‘handfuls’ of people and were not ‘one-on-one or small family’ tour.
Before the pandemic, it was not uncommon for lawmakers and their aides to provide tours to visitors through the Capitol, but public tours have been cancelled and the building is open only for official business.
Rep. Mo Brooks (Alabama) has defended his pre-riot speech, where he told protesters: ‘Today is the day patriots start taking down names and kicking a**’
New security outside House chamber
Amid heightened security and even with 20,000 National Guard set to be deployed for the inauguration, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi oversaw the installation of new metal detectors outside the House chamber – and said she would impose steep fines after House Republican members scoffed and raised constitutional concerns.
She says members who fail to comply will face fines of fine $5,000 for the first offense and $10,000 for the second offense, after GOP lawmakers brushed by Capitol Police officers and refused to go through the magnetometers.
is proposing fines of up to $10,000 will be imposed on members who fail to abide by the security protocols of the House.
‘It is tragic that this step is necessary, but the Chamber of the People´s House must and will be safe,’ said Pelosi. ‘Many House Republicans have disrespected our heroes by verbally abusing them and refusing to adhere to basic precautions.’
Pro-Trump activist Ali Alexander said in a video on Periscope that three GOP lawmakers helped in organizing the disruption of Congress certifying the election for Joe Biden on January 6
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., an ally of President Donald Trump, passes through a metal detector before entering the House chamber, a new security measure put into place after a mob stormed the Capitol, in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021
Claims by organizer
Ali Alexander, a pro-Trump organizer of the ‘stop the steal’ rally the day Congress met to count the electoral votes making Joe Biden the next president, said he coordinated with three House Republican members: Reps. Paul Gosar (Ariz.) and Andy Biggs (Ariz.), and Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, who spoke at the Trump rally before the riot.
He said in a since-deleted video: ‘I want to let you guys know how we’re responding because I was the person who came up with the January 6 idea with Congressman Gosar, Congressman Mo Brooks and then Congressman Andy Biggs.’
Of the three he named, Biggs’ office denied involvement, telling the Washington Post: ‘Congressman Biggs is not aware of hearing of or meeting Mr. Alexander at any point – let alone working with him to organize some part of a planned protest.’
Gosar has made no public statement but his twitter account tagged Alexander repeatedly.
And Brooks has not addressed Alexander’s claims but issued a lengthy statement Tuesday defending his speech to the rally at the Ellipse before the mob rioted, at which he shouted: ‘Today is the day patriots start taking down names and kicking a**.’
‘Those three members of Congress are going to need to lawyer up, very fast,” former House GOP Rep. Charlie Dent told CNN.
The network also reported following the suspensions of two Capitol Police officers that at least 10 others were being investigated for their behavior during the riot, which resulted in the death of a Capitol Police officer.