WASHINGTON — Democratic members of Congress on Wednesday accused unnamed Republicans of giving tours of the Capitol to insurrectionists ahead of last week’s deadly siege of the Capitol, as federal agencies opened two new investigations into the extent to which Capitol Police and some lawmakers were complicit in the mob attack.
The inspector general of the Capitol Police is opening a potentially wide-ranging investigation into security breaches connected to the siege that could determine the extent to which some Capitol Police officers were involved, according to a senior congressional aide with direct knowledge of the investigation. The inspector general will suspend all other projects until the investigation is complete, the aide said.
Three officers have been suspended, and 17 others are under investigation by the force’s Office of Professional Responsibility.
The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan federal watchdog agency, has also signaled it will open an investigation that will include the roles that members of Congress may have played in inciting the mob seeking to overturn the results of the election, according to the congressman who requested the inquiry, Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo.
Crow, a former Army captain, asked the comptroller general of the United States, who is part of the agency, last week to initiate a broad investigation into many aspects of the security breach, including the roles members of Congress played.
Crow, whose request letter was signed by 107 of his colleagues, said Wednesday that he has been informed the investigation is underway.
“To the extent there were members of the House that were complicit, and I believe there were, we will pursue appropriate remedies including expulsion and a prohibition from holding elective office for the rest of their lives,” Crow said in an interview. “They will of course be subject to criminal investigation and prosecution if that’s what the facts of the investigation show.”
The tours on the eve of the riot came to light after Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., a former Navy pilot, said Tuesday night on Facebook without offering evidence that she knew of members of Congress who gave “reconnaissance” tours to rioters ahead of the attack.
“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,” Sherrill said, “those members who attempted to help our president undermine our democracy, I’m going to see that they’re held accountable.”
On Wednesday, about 30 lawmakers joined Sherrill in requesting an investigation from the acting House and Senate sergeants-at-arms and the Capitol Police into what Sherrill called “suspicious behavior” and access given to visitors to the Capitol complex the day before the riot.
“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. They called the visits suspicious, noting that tours have been restricted because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, said lawmakers were aware of the tours but are now looking at them in a new light given the attack. He said they included “handfuls” of people and that authorities were aware of them.
“Now you look back on certain things and you look at them differently so, yeah, we’re looking into it,” he said.
Pressure is mounting on the Republican members of Congress who associated themselves with far-right extremist groups in the days leading up to the mob attack. Several of President Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters, including Reps. Mo Brooks of Alabama and Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs, both of Arizona, have been accused of helping plan the Jan. 6 rally that led to the violent attack on the Capitol.