Republicans threaten to release Jan 5 footage to clear Rep of ‘reconnaissance tour’, but it won’t be easy

House Republicans are prepping to release Capitol Police footage from Jan. 5, 2021, to defend Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), who took a family with young children on a tour of the Capitol that day, as Democrats on the Jan. 6 committee ridiculously accuse him of conducting reconnaissance.

The GOP does not have the video footage taken on Jan. 5, 2021, at least not yet. To store the hundreds of hours of video, they will need to fork over $20,000 for an external hard drive capable of holding the footage. It’s a major expense they may well undertake in order to defend Loudermilk and any other Republicans in the crosshairs of Democrats over Jan. 6, but first, the Capitol Police will have to turn over the video footage.

The Jan. 6 committee asked Loudermilk last week to voluntarily speak with its interrogators, claiming they have reviewed footage of the lawmaker showing visitors around the Capitol. According to the Republican lawmaker, none of them have called to simply ask what happened that day.

Loudermilk has been a very vocal critic of Democrats and the committee. He sits on the House Administration Committee that has been seeking the release of the Jan. 5 tapes to counter accusations that Republicans led reconnaissance tours in the Capitol the day before the riot.

(Video Credit: Rep. Barry Loudermilk)

“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 panel wrote in a letter to Loudermilk.

“Public reporting and witness accounts indicate some individuals and groups engaged in efforts to gather information about the layout of the U.S. Capitol, as well as the House and Senate office buildings, in advance of January 6, 2021,” the Democrats accusingly stated in the letter.

“Committee Minority staff have reviewed all footage in question and have confirmed no ‘reconnaissance tours’ occurred,” ranking member Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) wrote in a letter on Friday that was sent to the Capitol Police Board.

“If the Board has any hope of preserving a reputation as an unbiased security agency and re-establishing itself as a non-partisan entity, there is no alternative but to release the tapes. If the Board does not release the relevant footage in a timely manner, I will have no choice but to exercise my authority under 2 U.S.C. § 1979 to release the footage myself,” he threatened.

The House Administration Committee has been asking for the release of the video footage since February and has been stonewalled by the Capitol Police over it. A letter obtained by The Hill contends that the footage “does not support these repeated Democrat accusations about so-called ‘reconnaissance’ tours.”

Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) and other Democrats have accused Republicans of basically scoping out the Capitol ahead of the protest and entry into the building on Jan. 6. They claim to have seen an unusual amount of visitor activity on Jan. 5 despite tours being barred due to the pandemic.

(Video Credit: MSNBC)

“Clearly things have changed when one of our committee members is being insinuated that he led reconnaissance tours in the Capitol on Jan. 5 when we know for a fact the video footage shows otherwise,” a senior aide to the committee bluntly told The Hill.

The Jan. 6 committee is using the GOP’s description of the footage as a weapon against them, daring them to prove otherwise. Republicans claim there were “no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on” that day.

“The Select Committee’s review of evidence directly contradicts that denial,” Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Vice Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) wrote in the letter addressed to Loudermilk.

That accusation prompted the House Administration Committee and Loudermilk to issue a statement claiming he was simply giving a tour to a constituent family, during which they never entered the Capitol and their only crime was wearing red baseball caps. The group reportedly toured the House office buildings but never went into the building housing the chambers.

“They definitely were peaceful people, people that we met at church, they were supporters of the president, they just wanted to be up here as if it was another rally. We’ve actually checked on them to make sure they are safe,” Loudermilk said in an interview with Georgia-based WBHF concerning those who attended the rally on Jan. 6.

“They saw what it was turning into and they immediately turned back down the mall to get away from the crowds here,” he noted.

Capitol Police are refusing to release the footage.

“The USCP has cooperated extensively with the January 6th Select Committee and the Department of Justice by providing witnesses, documents, and 14,000 hours of security-sensitive camera footage. We cannot make additional public statements or provide any of the materials while their work is still pending,” the Capitol Police wrote in a statement justifying keeping the video footage from Republicans.

The law Davis refers to in his letter permits Capitol Police to release footage “in consultation with other appropriate law enforcement officials, experts in security preparedness, and appropriate committees of Congress, that the release of the security information will not compromise the security and safety of the Capitol buildings and grounds.”

“That statute means they can’t not give it to us,” a senior aide told The Hill. “There are not parameters around what the committee can do with it because it’s not classified.”

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