Led by Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair), 34 members of Congress asked Sergeants at Arms in both chambers and the U.S. Capitol Police investigate access visitors were given to the Capitol on the day before last week’s assault on Congress.
“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,” the lawmakers wrote. “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.”
Sherrill on Tuesday raised alarms about unspecified lawmakers giving “reconnaissance” tours on Jan. 5, just one day before an attack on the Capitol carried out by supporters of President Donald Trump.
An aide to Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) reported panic buttons in the congresswoman’s office were removed ahead of the attack.
“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,” the lawmakers’ letter said, adding that some of the Jan. 5 visitors appeared to be linked to the Trump rally that proceeded the attack.
Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson), Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch), Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), Albio Sires (D-West New York), Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) and Donald Payne (D-Newark) were among those who signed onto the request for an investigation.
The congresswoman requested the Sergeants at Arms and the Capitol Police identify members and staff who were part of the tours, as well as the visitors.
“It is important that we feel safe in the halls of Congress, and we applaud the Sergeant at Arms and U.S. Capitol Police for their efforts,” they said. “But the fact remains that there were unusually large groups of people throughout the Capitol who could only have gained access to the Capitol Complex from a Member of Congress or a member of their staff.”