Rep. Mikie Sherrill Says Lawmakers Led 'Reconnaissance' Tours at Capitol, Demands Investigation
Sherrill and more than 30 House Democrats demand details of "suspicious" visitors to the Capitol Jan. 5 who could only gain access via a member of Congress or their staff
New Jersey Rep. Mikie Sherrill is calling for an investigation into members of Congress she saw on January 5 leading groups of people through the Capitol in what she has described in a Facebook Live video as "a reconnaissance for the next day," when a pro-Trump mob violently stormed the Capitol in an insurrection that left five people dead.
In a letter sent Wednesday to the Acting House Sergeant at Arms, Acting Senate Sergeant at Arms, and United States Capitol Police, and signed by Sherrill and 33 other House Democrats, "an immediate investigation" is sought into the "extremely high number of outside groups" to the Capitol Complex on January 5.
The activity was so unusual because, among other reasons, "access to the Capitol Complex has been restricted since public tours ended in March of last year due to the pandemic."
The letter said these "unusually large groups ... could only have gained access to the Capitol Complex from a Member of Congress or a member of their staff" and "were so concerning that they were reported to the Sergeant at Arms on January 5."
In addition, the letter said the visitors "appeared to be associated with the rally at the White House the following day." It added: "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."
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Sherrill, a former Navy helicopter pilot and former federal prosecutor, wrote: "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."
Sherrill first raised the alarm Tuesday that some members of Congress may have provided "reconnaissance" tours to potential rioters in a Facebook Live video broadcast Tuesday evening to her constituents.
She spoke of not only holding President Donald Trump accountable for attempting to overturn the election results and inciting "armed members of a mob," but called out some of her colleagues in Congress who "attempted to help our president undermine our democracy."
"We can't have a democracy if members of Congress are actively helping the president overturn the elections results," Sherrill said. "I'm going to see they are held accountable, and if necessary, ensure that they don't serve in Congress."
Sherrill has not identified any of her colleagues and did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday from PEOPLE.
In the Facebook Live video she said of the president and her unnamed Congressional colleagues:
"And so not only do I intend to see that the president is removed and never runs for office again and doesn't have access to classified material, I also intend to see that those members of Congress who abetted him; those members of Congress who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5 — a reconnaissance for the next day; those members of Congress that incited this violent crowd; those members of Congress that attempted to help our president undermine our democracy; I'm going to see they are held accountable, and if necessary, ensure that they don't serve in Congress."