January 6 US Capitol riot panel releases video of site tour ahead of third hearing

Tour led by a Republican legislator the day before the attack shows at least one participant taking photos of stairwells and tunnels in the Capitol complex

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The House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection has released video of a tour led by a Republican congressman the day before the attack, showing participants taking photos of stairwells and tunnels in the Capitol complex.

The panel released the video ahead of Thursday's third public hearing of its findings from its 11-month investigation into the deadly insurrection. The nine-member committee is trying to show that former president Donald Trump's false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election promulgated anger that led to plots of "seditious conspiracy".

The panel wants Congressman Barry Loudermilk to speak to the committee about the tour, but Mr Loudermilk has so far declined the interview and denied any wrongdoing. The chief of the US Capitol Police in a letter to Republicans this week said that after reviewing surveillance video “we do not consider any of the activities we observed as suspicious".

Still, the committee says it has questions. In addition to the surveillance video, the footage released by the panel includes video of an unidentified man walking toward the Capitol on January 6 holding a flagpole that appears to have a sharpened end, which he says is “for a certain person”.

The committee says the man who took the video, who is not seen in the footage but is laughing and urging on the man with the flag, is one of the tour participants who was taking photos inside the Capitol the day before.

Later footage taken by the same man shows people approaching the Capitol. The man taking the video then makes apparent threats against Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and New York representatives Jerrold Nadler and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

“They’re coming in, coming in like white on rice for Pelosi, Nadler, even you, AOC,” the man says in the video released by the committee. “We’re coming to take you out and pull you out by your hairs … when I get done with you, you’re going to need a shine on top of that bald head.”

The panel did not say whether the man got into the Capitol or whether he has faced any charges.

While more than 800 people have been charged for breaking into the building, or for violently beating police officers, thousands of other protesters were outside the building or on the National Mall and did not engage in violence. The breach temporarily halted the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.

Police reviewed the footage of Mr Loudermilk’s tour as the committee requested his interview and after some Democrats said immediately after the attack that Republicans had led “reconnaissance tours” of the Capitol building beforehand. There has been no evidence that happened.

“This false narrative that the Committee and Democrats continue to push, that Republicans, including myself, led reconnaissance tours is verifiably false,” Mr Loudermilk said in a statement.

Thursday's hearing begins at 1pm eastern time. Witnesses include Greg Jacob, former counsel to vice president Mike Pence and J Michael Luttig, an informal adviser to Mr Pence.

- With AP

Updated: June 24, 2022, 5:52 AM