The entire controversy surrounding pre-Jan. 6 tours of the Capitol complex began the week after the attack. It was on Jan. 13, 2021, when Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show and said how shocked she was to see groups inside a House office building, especially given that the facilities were closed to tours at the time.
The New Jersey Democrat — a Navy veteran and former federal prosecutor — and her colleagues quickly rang the alarm, seeking an investigation into “suspicious behavior and access given to visitors to the Capitol Complex” on Jan. 5.
We’ve since learned a great deal about Republican Rep. Barry Loudermilk, his guests, and their actions. It’s a burgeoning controversy involving a GOP congressman whose story has evolved over time, and what his constituents were up to while being shown around.
In May 2011, Loudermilk and other Republicans accused Sherrill of an ethics violation because she raised the allegations in the first place. More than a year later, it's her claims, not her accusers', that appear to have been bolstered by extensive evidence.
But the week after the attack, Sherrill just didn’t reference a group that was taken on a tour; she mentioned “groups.” It was against this backdrop that Rachel asked the congresswoman on the show last night, “Do you know if there were more tours like this, either other tours led by Congressman Loudermilk or others led by other members?” Sherrill responded:
“That is not the only group that I saw. I saw groups down there, and I think what we’ve asked the Jan. 6 committee to do is understand what those people were doing in the Capitol complex.”
This would suggest that the Democratic lawmaker’s comments from early last year were intentional: The Loudermilk tour is proving to be important, but there’s no reason to assume it was the only pre-riot excursion.
For his part, Loudermilk spent part of yesterday downplaying the revelations, pointing to the Capitol Police’s apparent conclusion that the GOP lawmaker’s tour was innocuous.
Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren also appeared on the show last night and referenced those findings when explaining why the bipartisan panel released yesterday’s footage.
“[W]e got this weird letter from the Capitol Police chief,” the California congresswoman told Rachel, and we thought, ‘Well, we were going to show him this video, Mr. Loudermilk privately, and then ask him about it. So now, he has a copy of it, as does the rest of the public.”
There’s no reason to think we’ve heard the last of this story.
The House Jan. 6 committee is holding its third public hearing on Thursday, June 16 at 1 p.m. ET. Get expert analysis in real-time on our liveblog at msnbc.com/jan6hearings.