- Republican Rep. Barry Loudermilk has shifted the explanations of a tour he led before the Capitol riot.
- Loudermilk has changed his story about what happened on the day before the January 6 attack.
- The tour received renewed attention after the January 6 committee released footage of it.
Republican Rep. Barry Loudermilk has slowly shifted his explanation for a tour that he led a day before the January 6 Capitol riot. On Wednesday, the committee investigating the attack said that at least one person on the tour later attended Trump’s January 6 rally and march toward the Capitol. Other tour members appear to have taken photos of stairwells and a security station in the Capitol complex.
To be clear, there is no evidence that currently suggests any of the tour participants rioted inside the Capitol. There is also no evidence that suggests that Loudermilk, a Georgia Republican, knew any of the people on the tour wanted to commit violence or deface the Capitol.
What is clear is that Loudermilk has consistently shifted his explanation of the tour. His shifting story didn’t happen in a vacuum either, it came in wake of a stunning allegation leveled by one of his colleagues and as the January 6 committee continued to probe what happened.
Here’s the timeline of what has unfolded:
January 6, 2021: Loudermilk’s first description
Loudermilk gave an interview to a local Georgia radio station on the day of the riot. The Georgia Republican was still in an undisclosed secure location as he spoke. His comments would not become widely known until The Daily Dot uncovered them months later.
The explanation: “We actually had about a dozen people up here that wanted to come by and visit, we had them in our office, they definitely were peaceful people, people that we met at church. They were supporters of the president, they wanted to be up here as if it was another rally.”
Loudermilk added that his staff had touched base with the tour participants., “We actually checked on them to make sure they were safe. When they saw what it was turning into, they immediately turned and went back down the mall to get away from the crowd here.”
January 13, 2021: A Democratic lawmaker makes a jaw-dropping claim
Rep. Mikie Sherrill, a Navy veteran and New Jersey Democrat, requested an investigation “into the suspicious behavior and access given to visitors to the Capitol Complex” on January 5, 2021, the day before the riot. Sherrill led 34 House Democrats in writing to the board that oversees the US Capitol Police, alleging that she and other lawmakers who signed the letter “witnessed an extremely high number of outside groups in the complex.” As the authors point out, the Capitol was largely closed to the public at the time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The letter sets off a flurry of speculation about what, if any, tours occurred and what, if any, members of Congress assisted the tours.
Note: A former Democratic staffer confirmed to Insider’s Bryan Metzger on Wednesday that “the only way to get groups in was official business visits, which were still strongly discouraged.”
February 17, 2022: Republicans reportedly say there were no “reconnaissance tours”
The Hill reported that Republicans on House Administration Committee, a panel Loudermilk serves on, have concluded there is no evidence of anything like what Sherrill described. “We have reviewed the security footage from the Capitol Complex during the relevant period preceding January 6, 2021, and we know it does not support these repeated Democrat accusations about so-called ‘reconnaissance’ tours,” Rep. Rodney Davis, the top Republican on the committee, wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
In a denial that would later take on renewed relevance, an unnamed GOP aide added, “There were no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on,” the aide told the Hill. “There’s nothing in there remotely fitting the depiction in Mikie Sherrill’s letter.”
May 19, 2022: The Jan. 6 committee makes its initial request:
House Jan. 6 Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson and Vice-Chair Liz Cheney wrote to Loudermilk asking for information about the tour. They also said of the Republicans’ denial, “The Select Committee’s review of evidence directly contradicts that denial.”
The same day: “A constituent family”
Loudermilk, per Politico, which documented early on the Republican’s shifting explanations, told reporters: “A constituent family with young children meeting with their Member of Congress in the House Office Buildings is not a suspicious group… The family never entered the Capitol building…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.”
May 20: “Some were wearing hats”
Loudermilk, per a report published by the Valdosta Daily Times, said that some people in the group were wearing hats: “What was so awful about this family that caused the committee to make false accusations about them? Well, some were actually wearing baseball caps.” The Georgia Republican added that he did not approve the GOP’s broader denial letter before it went out.
The same day: The family was joined by “some guests”
Loudermilk in a video message said, “Yesterday afternoon, as I was traveling home to Georgia from Washington, my wife and I found out that I was in the crosshairs of the January 6 committee. Why? Because on January the 5th, I took a family with young children and their guests who were visiting Washington to lunch in a cafeteria in one of the House office buildings.”
June 14: The Capitol Police chief says there was nothing “suspicious” about the tour
Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger told Loudermilk that after reviewing footage of the tour the Capitol Police Board found that they didn’t view “any of the activities we observed as suspicious.” Manger, in a letter dated June 13, also wrote to Loudermilk that there were roughly 12 people that later grew to 15 on the tour.
June 15: The Jan. 6 committee releases footage of the tour
The committee says its investigation found evidence that one of the people on the tour later marched toward the Capitol on January 6. This same person also made threatening remarks about Pelosi and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat. There is also evidence that someone on the tour appeared to be taking pictures of a stairway. In another instance, a person also appears to be taking pictures near a security station. The committee said the images also clearly show people on the tour wearing MAGA hats, contradicting the unnamed aide’s comments to the Hill.
Here is the footage they released:
—January 6th Committee (@January6thCmte) June 15, 2022
A spokesperson for Loudermilk did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.