House Speaker Nancy Pelosi raised the possibility Friday of criminal prosecutions of Republican lawmakers if they are found to have provided Capitol tours to people who took part in the Capitol riots.
Speaking to reporters a week after a MAGA mob ransacked the Capitol and days after the House voted to impeach President Trump, the Speaker responded to claims by multiple lawmakers who have raised alarms about the tours on the eve of the riots.
‘If in fact it is found that members of Congress were accomplices to this insurrection – if they aided and abetted the crimes – there may have to be actions taken beyond the Congress in terms of prosecution for that,’ Pelosi said.
If lawmakers are found to be ‘accomplices’ in the riots, ‘there may have to be actions taken beyond the Congress in terms of prosecution for that,’ said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
While she said there would be a multi-pronged investigation of what went wrong, she also put the matter in terms of ‘trust’ – after she ordered the installation of a magnetometer outside the House chamber amid fears of further violence.
‘In order to serve here with each other, we must trust that people have respect for their oath of office. Respect for this institution. We must trust each other,’ Pelosi said.
She also announced that retired Lt. Gen. Rusell Honore would be coming on to conduct an ‘immediate review of security infrastructure’ and command and control for protecting the Capitol. ‘The general is a respected leader with experience dealing with crises,’ she said, in reference to the man who helped restore public confidence in the initially flailing response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
‘House leadership has welcomed Gen. Honore, seen up close and personal his excellent leadership at the time of Katrina, particularly the head of the Katrina Task Force,’ she said.
The demand for answers about who provided and who attended the tours follows daily revelations about the violent conduct and intentions of the rioters who stormed the Capitol just as Congress was meeting to count the votes of the Electoral College to cement Joe Biden’s election win.
Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, now retired, looks over the extensive flood damage by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the town of Empire in Plaquemines Parish, La., as he tours the area, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2005. He will help review Capitol security following last week’s riots
In one example, retired Lt. Col. Larry Rendall Brock Jr, 53, appeared in a Texas courtroom Thursday after he was arrested after being photographed on the Senate floor during the deadly riot wearing a helmet and heavy vest and carrying plastic zip-tie handcuffs.
During his hearing, prosecutors said the zip ties were proof Brock – who appeared in court with his hands and feet shackled – had planned to take hostages during the siege.
‘He means to take hostages. He means to kidnap, restrain, perhaps try, perhaps execute members of the U.S. government,’ Assistant US Attorney Jay Weimer said of Brock.
During the hearing, prosecutors read out social media posts from Brock, including one posted on the day of the Capitol riot that said: ‘Patriots on the Capitol. Patriots storming. Men with guns need to shoot their way in.’
Rioters were heard shouting to ‘hang Mike Pence!’ and lawmakers Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she feared she would be killed.
Federal prosecutors in Arizona alleged that the intent of the rioters during the siege was to capture and assassinate elected officials.
Honore helped restore confidence after the flailing initial Hurricane Katrina recovery effort
Brock was photographed on the Senate floor during the deadly riot wearing a helmet and heavy vest and carrying plastic zip-tie handcuffs
Federal prosecutors in Arizona on Thursday sought the detention of ‘QAnon Shaman’ Jacob Chansley (above). They allege that the intent of the rioters during the siege was to capture and assassinate elected officials
In a court filing there on Thursday, those prosecutors argued that ‘QAnon Shaman’ Jacob Chansley should be detained pending trial after he was charged over his involvement in the riots.
‘Strong evidence, including Chansley’s own words and actions at the Capitol, supports that the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States government,’ prosecutors said.
They said the 33-year-old left a note for Pence at the dais in the Senate Chamber where the second-in-command had been standing just minutes before, which read: ‘it’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.’
One thing Pelosi would not disclose is when she planned to send impeachment articles over to the Senate to begin President Trump’s trial on ‘incitement of insurrection.’ The trial is expected to begin after Trump leaves office, and the Senate is not currently in session.
‘You’ll be the first to know when we announce that we’re going over there,’ she told reporters.
Pelosi’s comment on the Capitol tours comes after Colorado Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert has blasted a Democratic lawmaker for ‘baseless claims’ that she led insurrectionists on a Capitol tour – even though the lawmaker never identified her as the person who did it when he referenced the jarring claim.
She also specifically denied leading a Capitol tour of ‘insurrectionists,’ although the lawmaker hadn’t accused her of doing so.
Boebert – who put out a video saying she carries a pistol around Washington, has expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, and tweeted the day of the Capitol riots that ‘Today is 1776’ – took to Twitter to go after Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.).
Maloney on MSNBC had chastised lawmakers who refused to go through a newly installed metal detector outside the House chamber. The Intelligence Committee member also spoke about his conversation with another lawmaker who told him he saw a member of Congress giving a suspicious tour the day before the riots.
Colorado Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert has blasted a Democratic lawmaker after he spoke about a lawmaker who gave ‘reconnaissance’ tours before last week’s Capitol riot – although he did not identify her as the person who did it
Boebert Tweeted Thursday night: ‘Rep. Sean Maloney made false and baseless conspiracy claims about me that led to death threats and hundreds of vile phone calls and emails. His comments were extremely offensive, shameful and dangerous.’
She also wrote him to deny ever giving such a tour. ‘All of your implications are categorically false. I comply with all applicable firearm laws and regulations. I did not conspire with criminals that attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. I have never given a tour of the U.S. Capitol to any outside group or “insurrectionists,”‘ she wrote.
That prompted Maloney to respond: ‘Um, I’ve never said your name in public, @RepBoebert. Never. Not once. (If you’re going to be a gun nut, you probably shouldn’t go off half cocked.) I’ll tweet the transcript so you can see…but that might be like “a fact”, so might not help you.’
He then tweeted a transcript of his Wednesday night interview on MSBNC, where he did not identify Boebert or any other lawmaker.
‘Some of our new colleagues, the same ones, of course, who believe in conspiracy theories and who want to carry guns into the House Chamber, who today — today — have been yelling at Capitol Police, shoving Capitol Police — who a week ago right now were risking their lives to save ours,’ he told the network. ‘This conduct is beyond the pale and extends to some of this interaction with the very people who attacked the Capitol.’
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., an ally of President Donald Trump, passes through a metal detector before entering the House chamber, a new security measure put into place after a mob stormed the Capitol, in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021
Boebert talks up her decision to carry firearms, and cut a video showing her carrying a gun around Washington, D.C.
‘Read the transcript,’ he told her, and printed one.
He had said: ‘My understanding is there was a member showing people around. And that was the reason that when the person who relayed that story to me objected, you know the answer comes Well, they’re with a member of Congress. So this issue right is that if a member of congress wants to do it, traditionally, it has been assumed to be safe …’
‘But now we can’t be sure a member of Congress will bring a gun to the inauguration. We can’t be sure that a member of this body wouldn’t be bringing people around the night before who the next day may have been participating in the murder of a Capitol Police Officer. I can’t believe I’m saying these things, but this is where we find ourselves, and we don’t plan to be caught off guard again.’
In her letter, Boebert wrote Maloney telling him that he ‘implied that I was that member of Congress’ who gave the Capitol tour. She called his comments ‘extremely offensive, shameful and dangerous.’
Boebert, who before her election expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, saying she hopes QAnon ‘is real,’ was one of numerous Republicans who objected to the new metal detectors Speaker Nancy Pelosi had installed outside the chamber, and refused to go through it this week.
Maloney also said it may be necessary to pursue criminal charges if people are found to be ‘coordinating in real time’ with rioters. ‘Then the hell with the Ethics Committee, these people need to be charged criminally,’ he said. He said that would not apply if people were found just to be giving tours to people who were ‘sympathetic’ or had ‘strong feelings.’
A group of 68 local officials from around Boebert’s congressional district, which includes Steamboat Springs, wrote a letter expressing concern about her recent actions.
‘We have heard overwhelmingly from our constituents, therefore her constituents, that there is deep concern about her actions leading up to and during the protests that turned into a violent deadly mob,’ they wrote, the Steamboat Pilot reported.
Boebert objected to election results certified by states that voted for Joe Biden shortly before the House abruptly recessed as a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. ‘I have constituents outside this building right now, and I promised my voters to be their voice,’ she said on the floor. ‘They know that this election is not right, and as their representative, I am sent here to represent them.’
A group of Democratic lawmakers is seeking an investigation of the alleged tours – just one of several troubling security issues to emerge since the riots last Wednesday.
A senior aide to a conservative Republican congressman admitted Thursday to being so close to the MAGA riots that she saw flash bombs and tear gas and could have touched shot rioter Ashli Babbitt when she was taken to an ambulance.
Sandy Adams, district director for Virginia’s Bob Good, said she and her husband were there for ’45 minutes’ – an admission which comes amid mounting demands by Democrats for a full-scale investigation into whether Republican members or staff helped plan the event.
Adams and her husband Melvin Adams denied taking part in any violence but acknowledged being at the police barriers.
They went ‘to join with many, many thousands of wonderful red-blooded American patriots in Washington DC,’ Melvin Adams wrote in an email obtained by the Washington Post.
Sandy Adams, district director for Virginia’s GOP Rep. Bob Good, said she and her husband were outside the Capitol for ’45 minutes’ – an admission which comes amid mounting demands by Democrats for a full-scale investigation into whether Republican members or staff helped plan the event
‘I did witness the use of flash bombs and tear gas at the entrances in efforts to control the crowd,’ according to Adams.
‘But the tragic nature of events inside came home full force when a young lady who had been shot was being taken to the ambulance, passing so close to us that we could have literally reached out and touched her,’ he wrote.
News of the top Republican staffer’s attendance comes as the House Democratic Whip charged that sitting lawmakers gave inside help to MAGA mob rioters – as a group of Democratic lawmakers is demanding to know how rioters appeared to gain ‘unusually detailed knowledge’ of the Capitol they ransacked.
Rep. James C. Clyburn of South Carolina is pointing to rioters who located his own unmarked office, as well as ‘tours’ that several Democrats say GOP lawmakers provided in advance of the January 6 riot.
‘Well, it seems to me that something was going on – some coordination was going on between sitting members of Congress and some of these called visitors to the Capitol,’ Clyburn said.
A group of House Democrats, led by Rep. Mikie Sherrill (N.J.), have written Capitol Police demanding the identities of people who toured Capitol facilities the day before the riot – along with any information on the members who brought them there. Sherrill is a former Navy helicopter pilot who ultimately helped rally support for the first Trump impeachment.
Good is a fervently pro-Trump first-term Republican who defeated another Republican in the primary. He was the athletic director of Liberty University.
The Democratic lawmakers are seeking answers to a series of questions about procedures for public admittance to the Capitol – with an eye toward identifying who was in the building Jan. 5 and what lawmakers may have gotten them in.
Rep. James C. Clyburn, the House Democratic whip, said there was coordination ‘between sitting members of Congress’ and those who ransacked the Capitol
Did they know more than this? Democrats want to know if the MAGA rioters were equipped with up to date floor plans showing where specific members’ offices are
Demand: What Democrats are asking Capitol Police and the acting sergeants at arms
‘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,’ they wrote. The letter was signed by 34 lawmakers.
They called the tours ‘noticeable and concerning’ and said rioters the following day seemed to have ‘unusually detailed knowledge’ of the building.
‘This is unusual for several reasons, including the fact that access to the Capitol Complex has been restricted since public tours ended in March of last year due to the pandemic. The tours being conducted on Tuesday, January 5, were a noticeable and concerning departure from the procedures in place as of March 2020 that limited the number of visitors to the Capitol.’
They say the tours were ‘so concerning’ that they were reported to the Sergeant at Arms the day before the riot.
‘The visitors encountered by some of the Members of Congress on this letter appeared to be associated with the rally at the White House the following day. That group left the White House and marched to the Capitol with the objective of preventing Congress from certifying our election. 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,’ they wrote.
The members went on to ask detailed questions bout the system for tracking Capitol visitors.
‘Are there video logs of the day in question?’ they demanded to know. ‘Is facial recognition software used for visitors entering the complex?’
‘I’ve been listening to my colleagues and watching many of their interviews on television and many of them saw things going on the day before that led them to believe that something was amiss,’ Clyburn added.
In just one example of direct connections to the protest that became a bloody riot, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) has deleted a tweet three days before the events where he bragged about meeting with participants.
‘Had a great meeting today with folks from ‘Stop the Steal’ at our nation’s Capitol. I encouraged them to keep fighting and assured them I look forward to doing MY duty on January 6th, Sessions wrote in the the Jan. 3 tweet. said. Sessions included the hashtags ‘#StopTheSteal and #legalvotescount.’ Following the riots, he tweeted about the ‘illegal and unprecedented charge on the U.S. Capitol.’
Sessions used to chair the House Rules Committee, whose ornate offices are just steps from the House chamber and Speaker’s Lobby that was overrun during the riots.
‘PANIC BUTTONS TORN OUT’ FROM SQUAD MEMBER’S OFFICE
Target? Ayanna Pressley’s staff revealed that panic buttons had been ‘torn out’ of her office
Sarah Groh, the chief of staff to Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), revealed panic buttons were ‘torn out’ of the ‘squad’ member’s congressional office.
Both Clyburn and Pressley are members of the Congressional Black Caucus and prominent nationally with Pressley one of the members of ‘the Squad’ of radical Democrats led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
During the riots, Pressley’s office staff were barricading themselves behind their office door for protection, when they began looking for specially installed panic buttons. Pressley has them throughout the office after encountering threats since her election two years ago as part of the ‘squad.’
‘Every panic button in my office had been torn out – the whole unit,’ Groh said.
HOW DID MOB FIND MOST SENIOR BLACK DEMOCRAT’S UNMARKED OFFICE?
Clyburn has raised questions about how people who breached the Capitol had located his unmarked office inside the sprawling Capitol.
‘Now I do know my own office where I do most of my work is unmarked, it’s on a different floor from the office where it is designated as my office. Nobody bothered the door that was designated to be mine – but they showed up at my office where I do most of my work. It seems to me that they had knowledge of where I cold be found,’ he said.
Clyburn’s leadership office, he is the party whip and Number Three leader, is marked with a wood plaque.
MAGA mob: President Trump did not use the speech to acknowledge any responsibility for the desecration of the Capitol for which he is being impeached, but came closer than before by saying to his supporters of violence and lawbreaking: ‘If you do any of this you do not support our movement.’
NAVY VET REP.: I SAW PRE-RIOT TOURS OF PEOPLE ‘CASING THE JOINT’
Clyburn alluded to comments by other House Democrats who have reported seeing what they identified suspicious activity by fellow lawmakers in advance of the riots.
Rep. Mikie Sherill said there were lawmakers ‘who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5, a reconnaissance for the next day,’ she said. ‘I’m going to see that they’re held accountable and, if necessary, ensure that they don’t serve in Congress,’ she added in a Facebook live post.
Sherrill, who represents New Jersey‘s 11th district, said during a Facebook Live video Tuesday night that she wants members of Congress who ‘abetted’ President Donald Trump and the violent crowd who descended on the Capitol to be held accountable and prevented from running for office in the future.
But she did not name the Republicans she says abated the insurrectionists.
Her accusation came as more details emerged over the attack indicating three Republican lawmakers may have helped protesters get inside. Sherrill is a Navy veteran and former federal prosecutor who sits on the House Armed Services Committee.
‘We can’t have a democracy if members of Congress are actively helping the president overturn the elections results,’ Sherrill said of her colleagues she claims assisted Trump in inciting a crowd to storm the Capitol last Wednesday, January 6.
‘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,’ she continued in her straight-to-camera remarks.
‘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.’
Tim Ryan said there were fears Republican lawmakers gave tours to visitors who were ‘casing the joint’ – and that groups getting tours involved ‘handfuls’ of people and were not ‘one-on-one or small family’ tour.
Before the pandemic, it was not uncommon for lawmakers and their aides to provide tours to visitors through the Capitol, but public tours have been cancelled and the building is open only for official business.
AOC: I AVOIDED ‘EXTRACTION POINTS’ BECAUSE I FEARED REPUBLICANS
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez expressed concern that her own colleagues in Congress might have shared her location to the mob of fanatic Trump supporters while they were storming the Capitol last Wednesday.
Lawmakers were instructed to head for a designated ‘extraction point’ to seek protection from the chaos, but AOC asserted that that wasn’t really an option ‘because there were QAnon and white-supremacist sympathizers and, frankly, white-supremacist members of Congress in that extraction point who I know and who I have felt would disclose my location and would create opportunities to allow me to be hurt, kidnapped, et cetera.’
‘So I didn’t even feel safe around other members of Congress,’ she said during an hour long Instagram live video from Tuesday.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks comes as other Democrats have sounded off on the possibility that some GOP members of the Congress abetted the rioters as they stormed the building.
The Democratic congresswoman – a lightning rod for the president and his followers – said during an Instagram Live broadcast that she could not go into detail about her harrowing time inside the Capitol, due to security concerns.
But she said she had had a ‘very close encounter’ with the insurrectionists during which, she said, ‘I thought I was going to die.’
She added: ‘I did not know if I was going to make it to the end of that day alive.’
She said: ‘I didn’t even feel safe going to that extraction point because there were QAnon and white supremacist members of Congress who I felt would disclose my location and create opportunities to allow me to be hurt,’ she said, adding that she ‘didn’t feel safe around other members of Congress.’
The 31-year-old said that some of her colleagues had invited their children into Congress that day, and they were exposed to the trauma.
The rioters pummeled the door of the House chamber, with the politicians inside. The Senate chamber was breached, when the Senators had been safely evacuated, but the House was not.
‘It is not an exaggeration to say that many, many members of the House were nearly assassinated,’ said Ocasio-Cortez.
‘It’s just not an exaggeration to say that at all. We were very lucky that things happened within certain minutes. That allowed members to escape the gap, the House floor unharmed.
‘But many of us merely narrowly escaped death. And it’s also extremely traumatizing.’
The New Yorker praised the police officers who managed to repel the invaders, saying they were on the frontline of the fight against white supremacy, and speaking of her dismay in seeing rioters running through the Capitol waving the Confederate flag.
‘There were also black and brown officers that were confronting white supremacists and putting themselves, not just to protect members, but they put themselves in harm’s way,’ she said.
‘On the front line, facing the racist violence.’
But, continuing, she said she believed some of the Capitol Police were working with the rioters.
WHAT ABOUT THE CAPITOL COPS? DEMS REVEAL 17 UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR POSSIBLE COMPLICITY OR WORSE
On Monday Tim Ryan, the Ohio congressman leading the investigation into the riots, said one member of the Capitol Police had been arrested.
Two were also suspended – one for taking a selfie with a rioter; another for putting on a MAGA hat and appearing to show the frenzied mob around.
‘There were those acts of heroism. But next to that there was also acts of betrayal.
‘And to run in the Capitol, in our nation’s capital, and not know if an officer is there to help you or to harm you – it’s also quite traumatizing.’
A Capitol Police officer who posed for a selfie with a rioter (above) has been suspended
I HAD INSIDE HELP, STOP THE STEAL ORGANIZER BOASTED – AND NAMED NAMES
Pro-Trump activist Ali Alexander said in a video on Periscope that three GOP lawmakers helped in organizing the disruption of Congress certifying the election for Joe Biden on January 6
Ali Alexander, a pro-Trump organizer of the ‘stop the steal’ rally the day Congress met to count the electoral votes making Joe Biden the next president, said he coordinated with three House Republican members: Reps. Paul Gosar (Ariz.) and Andy Biggs (Ariz.), and Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, who spoke at the Trump rally before the riot.
He said in a since-deleted video: ‘I want to let you guys know how we’re responding because I was the person who came up with the January 6 idea with Congressman Gosar, Congressman Mo Brooks and then Congressman Andy Biggs.’
Of the three he named, Biggs’ office denied involvement, telling the Washington Post: ‘Congressman Biggs is not aware of hearing of or meeting Mr. Alexander at any point – let alone working with him to organize some part of a planned protest.’
Gosar has made no public statement but his twitter account tagged Alexander repeatedly.
And Brooks has not addressed Alexander’s claims but issued a lengthy statement Tuesday defending his speech to the rally at the Ellipse before the mob rioted, at which he shouted: ‘Today is the day patriots start taking down names and kicking a**.’
‘Those three members of Congress are going to need to lawyer up, very fast,” former House GOP Rep. Charlie Dent told CNN.
The network also reported following the suspensions of two Capitol Police officers that at least 10 others were being investigated for their behavior during the riot, which resulted in the death of a Capitol Police officer.
MORE SECURITY TO STOP QAUCUS TAKING GUNS INTO HOUSE CHAMBER
Amid heightened security and even with 20,000 National Guard set to be deployed for the inauguration, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi oversaw the installation of new metal detectors outside the House chamber – and said she would impose steep fines after House Republican members scoffed and raised constitutional concerns.
She says members who fail to comply will face fines of fine $5,000 for the first offense and $10,000 for the second offense, after GOP lawmakers brushed by Capitol Police officers and refused to go through the magnetometers.
is proposing fines of up to $10,000 will be imposed on members who fail to abide by the security protocols of the House.
‘It is tragic that this step is necessary, but the Chamber of the People´s House must and will be safe,’ said Pelosi. ‘Many House Republicans have disrespected our heroes by verbally abusing them and refusing to adhere to basic precautions.’
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., an ally of President Donald Trump, passes through a metal detector before entering the House chamber, a new security measure put into place after a mob stormed the Capitol, in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021