- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 30, 2023

Rep. Barry Loudermilk wants members of the Democrat’s now-defunct Jan. 6 committee to admit they falsely accused him of conducting a “reconnaissance tour” the day before rioters stormed the Capitol in 2021.

He said the committee knew it was a lie and they owe an apology to the people he gave a tour of the Capitol complex that day.

“We’ve uncovered documents that prove the committee knew that the allegation that I gave a ‘reconnaissance tour’ was verifiably false, yet continued to make public accusations and ultimately printed that lie in their final report,” Mr. Loudermilk said. “It’s clear their work isn’t credible, and they owe every individual whose reputation they attempted to smear an apology.”

That’s how Mr. Loudermilk, the Georgia Republican who now leads the House Administration Committee’s oversight panel, opened a review of work by the Jan. 6 committee.

The Jan. 6 committee, which was organized in the last Congress by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, accused former President Donald Trump of inciting the riot in an attempted coup. It accused several Republican lawmakers, including Mr. Loudermilk, of aiding the rioters.

Mr. Loudermilk said that Jan. 6 committee, for political purposes, intentionally smeared him.

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“As the subcommittee continues to go through over 2 million documents provided by the Jan. 6 Select Committee, our initial review has found that their work was solely focused on pushing a pre-determined narrative and they selectively chose ‘facts’ to fit that narrative. I was the target of one of those narratives,” he said in a statement.

He also said the Jan. 6 committee selectively edited security footage of him and a Georgia family from his district who met with him in the Rayburn House Office Building a day before the riot.

Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the Democratic co-chair of the Jan. 6 committee, said his panel did nothing deceptive and he refused to apologize.

“All he had to do was come and testify before the committee. We could have cleared that up,” Mr. Thompson told The Washington Times.

Capitol Police said in a letter last year that Mr. Loudermilk was cleared of wrongdoing. The letter came out the same week the Jan. 6 committee aired a video of the congressman conducting the tour for constituents, which is commonplace at the Capitol.

Mr. Thompson said he was “not aware” of the Capitol Police letter.

“The Democrats intended to take a look at all these tapes and only show what they wanted to tell and I think the reality is way different,” Mr. Loudermilk said. “It was unfairly characterized and unfairly pitched to inflame the circumstances and emotions.”

The Times reached out to several other members of the Jan. 6 committee for comment but did not hear back. 

Rep. Norma Torres of California, the top Democrat on the House Administration Committee, said the committee’s Republicans were the ones twisting the facts. She also accused Mr. Loudermilk of publicizing his findings without first sharing them with the Democratic side.

“No amount of selective editing can distort the truth: armed, violent insurrectionists overran the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. On that horrific day for America, I was face down with my colleagues in the House Chamber, praying we would get out alive,” she said in a statement.

Many visitors were milling about the Capitol complex on Jan. 5, 2021, following the swearing-in of Congress two days earlier.

A family from Mr. Loudermilk’s district visited him that day. At the last moment, they were joined by two other people, Albert Foley and Trevor Hallgren, whom Mr. Loudermilk’s staff agreed he would meet.

The group took photos around the House office building as the congressman led them through the hallways. He said goodbye to them at the House tram, a small underground train that shuttles lawmakers between the office buildings and the Capitol. 

During a hearing last year, the committee showed a video of Mr. Loudermilk’s group taking photos of him boarding the tram. The committee described the group as taking suspicious photos of the Capitol tunnel system. 

“The behavior of these individuals during the Jan. 5, 2021, tour raises concerns about their activity and intent while inside the Capitol complex,” Mr. Thompson wrote to Mr. Loudermilk.

Mr. Hallgren and Mr. Foley were interviewed by federal investigators and deposed by the committee.

Neither Mr. Hallgren nor Mr. Foley entered the Capitol on Jan. 6. Both men left the area when the riot began and they were not charged with any crimes. 

During his deposition, Mr. Hallgren apologized when a video was shown of him outside the Capitol saying: “There’s no escape Pelosi, Schumer, Nadler. We’re coming for you. … Even you AOC. We’re coming to take you out. To pull you out by your hairs.” 

Mr. Hallgren told the committee he was embarrassed by what he had said and that he was “very passionate about the way he felt about politics.”

Mr. Loudermilk said he did not condone Mr. Hallgren’s rhetoric.

“He said he was embarrassed by the videos now, and he was just basically caught up in the moment,” the congressman said. “All evidence has shown … he never got any closer than 100 yards to the Capitol on Jan. 6.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the Rayburn House Office Building.

• Kerry Picket can be reached at kpicket@washingtontimes.com.

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