House Republicans are creating a committee to “reinvestigate” the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
More than two months after the historic House Jan. 6 select committee disbanded and published its final report on the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, House Republicans are launching their own review of the Capitol riot.
They plan to emphasize a different focus Jan. 6 with their panel. And the Georgia Republican who will chair the new panel is using the phrases “investigate both sides” and “show what really happened on Jan. 6” to describe the committee’s work.
Rep. Barry Loudermilk, Republican of Georgia, and chairman of the House Administration subcommittee on Oversight, said his panel will “aggressively” work to review the security failures that contributed to the breach of the Capitol on Jan. 6, and will investigate the conduct and performance of the prior House Jan. 6 select committee, which gathered millions of pages of documents and hundreds of interviews in 2021 and 2022, including with key members of the Trump inner circle.
“We have dedicated staff working on this,” Loudermilk said.
Loudermilk told CBS News his panel would consider seeking an interview with former Speaker Nancy Pelosi as part of its work, including any decisions made about Capitol security ahead of Jan. 6.
“If we need to, we would like for her to come and talk to us about it,” Loudermilk said. He also raised the prospect of interviewing former members of the House select Jan. 6 committee.
The House select committee drew national attention and media coverage last year through a series of nationally televised hearings that included footage of the attacks against police. The committee held hearings throughout 2022, some in primetime, in which top Republican figures testified about efforts by former President Trump to pressure them to overturn election results and talked about his role in inspiring and fomenting political violent threats and the Capitol riot.
The committee included two Republicans, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, and Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, but it was otherwise largely boycotted by House Republicans in the last Congress.
Loudermilk said his new subcommittee is reviewing two million pages of documents compiled by the House Jan. 6 select panel.
“I’ve spent quite a bit of time going through documents,” he said. “Unfortunately, when the documents were preserved, they weren’t categorized very well. So, there was a lot of documents that were boxed up.”
Loudermilk said his panel is also reviewing some of the 40,000 hours of police videos, the same tranche of footage that Speaker Kevin McCarthy recently provided exclusively to Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
Loudermilk said his panel will also likely seek interviews with former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund and the former House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving about security decisions made ahead of the Jan. 6 attack. Other congressional panels and government auditors have already conducted investigations and released reports into security and intelligence failures, including a series of reviews by the Government Accountability Office and a report by the Senate Homeland Security committee.
“What I’d like to do is show what really happened on Jan. 6,” Loudermilk said. “When asked by CBS News what he meant by the phrase “what really happened,” he responded, “Where was the security failure and why were we not ready?”
Rep. Norma Torres, Democrat of California, who will serve as the top Democrat on the panel told CBS News, “I think it’s obscene to go back and try to re-do the work of a bi-partisan committee that was very focused on learning what happened.”
Torres said, “It serves no purpose other than if you are an insurrectionist or if you support an insurrectionist and want to portray a different story than what truly happened that day.”
Torres was among the group of House members trapped on the upper balcony of the House chamber on Jan. 6. She recalled that as they were escaping, the riotous mob was “just 10 seconds behind” them.
Torres has criticized the release of Jan. 6 police footage to Fox’s Carlson and said she’s concerned the new subcommittee and Republican members will deny the true violence and intent of the mob.
“It’s unfortunate that this has become a political theater for them,” Torres said. “For them, it is a show. They want a different ending to the movie, to the horror show.”
While she lauds the work of the House select Jan. 6 committee from last year, Loudermilk blisters the panel with criticism. He told CBS News, “Americans have very little confidence in the report that they put out. And there’s good reason. I mean, you even consider what they did to me, the false allegations that they made against me regarding the constituents that I had in my office in the office buildings — accusing me of giving reconnaissance tours.”
The Jan. 6 select committee had sought an interview with Loudermilk last year to talk about a tour group his office had arranged on Capitol grounds on Jan. 5, 2021. Loudermilk said the group wasn’t near the Capitol during the Jan. 6 breach and criticized the Select Committee for publicly announcing its request for an interview with him, before notifying him of it.
The tour group was inside the Capitol office building grounds during a time period when the complex was closed to public tours and visitors because of the COVID pandemic.
Last week, former House select Jan. 6 committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, said his committee had not implied Loudermilk was supporting insurrectionists by giving the group a tour. When asked about the possibility of being called to testify before Loudermilk’s panel, Thompson told CBS News, “We’ve concluded our work, and we’re moving on.”
Loudermilk said his panel would “be honest, show the truth, show both sides.” When pressed by CBS News about how Jan. 6 had “two sides,” Loudermilk reiterated his criticism about the scrutiny he was given for the tour group by the Jan. 6 select committee.
He conceded the people arrested for their roles in the Capitol siege included people who had “violent intent” but said the arrests also included others who “just came to protest.” Loudermilk said his review of some of the unreleased Jan. 6 police video shows a wide range of actions by people amid the mob.
He pointed to one video that he said “shows one of the people grab an officer by the neck, pull him down and (start) beating on him.” But Loudermilk maintained that other footage shows “Capitol Police are just milling around with those that have come into the Capitol. You have this great contrast of scenes of violence against Capitol Police and scenes where the Capitol Police are just milling around.”
Carlson faced criticism from some congressional Republicans for recent claims that police were welcoming and escorting some in the mob, or acting casually around the crowd, on Jan. 6. The Capitol Police chief accused Carlson of “cherry picking” video about police acting like “tour guides.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, said, “It was a mistake, in my view, for Fox News to depict this in a way that’s completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official here at the Capitol thinks.”
No public hearings of the new subcommittee have been announced. But unlike the original Jan. 6 select committee, the minority party will not boycott the new subcommittee’s hearings and proceedings.
Torres said she will be active at hearings and meetings, but she said Democrats have not yet received complete information about the new subcommittee’s plans or schedule.
“They have not given us anything,” she said. “They have not even given us the dates of the meetings, which is very basic information. And I think common courtesy to the minority would be to at the very least extend the courtesy to provide us with the dates when we are expected to, you know, be briefed on this and to be present for a briefing who the witnesses may be and what is the purpose of this information that they are collecting.”