Shortly after the Capitol riot, 34 Democrats signed a letter asking the Department of Justice and the Capitol Police to investigate claims that Republican members of Congress assisted the rioters by giving some of them a tour of the Capitol in the days leading up to the riot.
There wasn’t a jot of evidence that any member of Congress had any advance knowledge of the riot or that any member facilitated a “reconnaissance” of the Capitol for those who would go on to be rioters by giving them a tour beforehand. But Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill, saw a golden opportunity for a baseless smear and jumped at the chance.
“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 for reconnaissance for the next day, those members of Congress who incited the violent crowd, those members of Congress that attempted to help our president undermine our democracy, I’m going see that they’re held accountable,” Sherrill said.
Three months after that letter appeared in the press, there’s been no word from the DOJ or the Capitol Police on what any investigation might have uncovered. Meanwhile, the smear is still out there, unanswered.
Republicans want some answers. Now.
Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, and other GOP members of the panel are asking officials in both agencies to provide a “confidential briefing” about the status of their review of those claims.
“It is extremely important that there be repercussions for anyone found responsible in connection with these serious allegations,” the lawmakers wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Gaston and acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman. “We hope to gain more insight into what has unfolded with any investigation thus far and continue to monitor its progress with a keen focus on a fair and unbiased process.”
The Justice Department has been silent about its investigation while the Capitol Police will only say its investigation is ongoing. The police turned over thousands of hours of video shot during and before the riot to Congress.
Sherrill won’t say which members she saw conducting tours on January 5 and why some of the tourists on those tours looked “suspicious.”
Davis said in a recent interview that he called Sherrill shortly after learning of the allegations and asked her to update him on whom she suspected of malfeasance, but he said she did not provide any names. He thinks Democrats who leveled the charge without providing evidence could open themselves to ethics complaints if they don’t substantiate them soon.
“At some point they’re going to have to make a decision on how they want to proceed,” Davis said. “You can’t just make accusations like that without somebody bringing forth some proof.”
At the time the letter became public in mid-January, I wrote this:
“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” said astronomer Carl Sagan. He was referring to claims of aliens visiting earth, but he may as well have had the Democrats smearing Republicans with baseless charges of complicity in an insurrection in mind.
There is no evidence that any Republican congressman was involved in any way in the assault on the Capitol. There’s no evidence that routine tours of the Capitol given by every member of Congress were anything but wide-eyed tourists killing time on their vacation.
Rep. Davis is dreaming if he believes the ethics committee will do anything to Sherrill or to any of those 33 other Democrats who eagerly signed a letter they knew was a smear. “Ethics” and “Congress” are two words that should never be used in the same sentence.