WASHINGTON — Rep. Mikie Sherrill and 33 other House members want an investigation into access given by fellow House lawmakers to visitors to the Capitol on Jan. 5 before the violent attacks on Congress the next day.
The New Jersey Democrat alleged Tuesday night that members of Congress led guests on what she described as “reconnaissance” ahead of the Jan. 6 insurrection.
A letter issued Wednesday asks the acting House sergeant-at-arms, acting Senate sergeant-at-arms, and United States Capitol Police to investigate “suspicious behavior” on Jan. 5 and changes to visitor access.
“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,” Sherrill wrote.
The New Jersey Democrat and former Navy pilot first made public her concerns about House members preparing rioters for their siege of the Capitol in a video on Facebook on Tuesday night.
The letter notes that she and other signatories, including former CIA officer Abigail Spanberger, have served in military and intelligence roles and are trained to recognize suspicious activity.
“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,” wrote the lawmakers.
Visitors, official tour groups and almost anyone without a congressional ID have been barred from the Capitol since mid-March, when the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic led congressional leaders to partially close the usually public building.
But members of Congress have been disregarding those strictures to bring in families and friends for small private tours for months, and Capitol Police stationed at entrances typically don’t challenge lawmakers to enforce rules.
The letter asks if there is a database of guests to the Capitol and if SAA staff and Capitol Police require lawmakers to sign in guests upon entry. They also want to know if facial recognition software is in use for visitors entering the Capitol complex.