WASHINGTON – A growing number of House Democrats are calling for an investigation into whether their fellow Republicans aided supporters of President Trump who violently stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6 in an attempt to overturn the election results of Last year.
Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., Told Yahoo News that many of his fellow Democrats were discussing the possibility that members of the Republican House played a role in the attacks.
“I hope no member has done this, but the truth is there are more questions than answers; what kind of communication did people have with members? Did the members give them information about certain things, such as which entries to use or other information before or during the attack? Richmond asked, adding, “It’s a real concern and I’ve heard a lot of people talk about it.”
Rep. Ritchie Torres, DN.Y., a freshman congressman, told Yahoo News he wanted to see an investigation into what role his fellow Republicans may have played in the attacks.
“Many of my colleagues and I strongly believe that Donald Trump’s most egregious facilitators in Congress should be investigated for their complicity in the insurgency against the United States,” Torres said.
Thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol following a rally organized by the president at the National Mall. During a speech to the crowd, Trump reiterated his false claim that his electoral defeat to President-elect Joe Biden was fraudulent.
Trump also urged the crowd to “fight like hell” and said he knew they were planning to march to Capitol Hill, where lawmakers were certifying Biden’s victory. The riots that followed briefly interrupted voter certification. Five deaths have been linked to the violence, including that of Capitol Hill cop Brian Sicknick, who was allegedly struck by a fire extinguisher, and Ashli Babbitt, a Trump supporter who was shot dead by law enforcement. On Wednesday evening, Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for his role in inciting the riot.
Concerns over the potential involvement of Republican members escalated Tuesday night after Representative Mikie Sherill, DN.J., claimed to have witnessed “members of Congress who had groups crossing Capitol Hill that I ‘ve seen January 5 for the recognition the next day. Sherill, a former Navy helicopter pilot, detailed her claims Wednesday night in a letter she and her colleagues, Representative Frank Pallone Jr., DN.J., and Representative Katherine Clark, dispatched to officials tasked with securing the Capitol.
The letter suggested that several members had observed “suspicious” groups being shown around the Capitol complex the day before the attack. He also claimed that these groups were reported to authorities at the time.
“Visitors some members of Congress met on this letter appeared to be associated with the White House rally the next day,” the letter said. “The members of the group that attacked the Capitol appeared to have unusually detailed knowledge of the layout of the Capitol complex.
This letter was addressed to the Acting House and Senate Sergeants-at-Arms and the Acting Chief of Police at the United States Capitol Building. He asked officials for information about visitors to the complex on January 5. Sherill’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
Rioters penetrated deep inside the labyrinthine Capitol complex and reached key locations including the office of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House and Senate chambers. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., said on a live Instagram show on Tuesday that she “did not feel safe with other members of Congress” when she was evacuated to a location safe during the attack.
“I didn’t even feel safe going to this extraction point because there were QAnons and white supremacist sympathizers and, frankly, white supremacist members of Congress in this extraction point that I know and who I think would disclose my location, ”Ocasio- Says Cortez.
Ocasio-Cortez, a high-profile progressive who has already faced previous death threats, also said she had a “very close encounter” that made her fear for her life during the attack. She declined to go into further detail on this experience for security reasons. Ocasio-Cortez’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
Federal police are currently investigating the attack on the Capitol and how it could have been coordinated. Many rioters who raped the building came prepared with weapons and protective gear. Several people were arrested in connection with the attack. At a press conference Tuesday, Acting U.S. District of Columbia Attorney Michael Sherwin, who is investigating the Capitol Hill insurgency, suggested there would be some disturbing revelations about what happened.
“I think people are going to be shocked by some of the egregious behavior that has taken place on Capitol Hill,” Sherwin said.
The FBI did not respond to requests for comment on whether it was investigating possible involvement of members of Congress.
At least one Republican congressman has a hitherto unreported connection to a group that led a “trailer” to attack the Capitol. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, attended weapons training in 2018 with a company from his home state that brought a group to Capitol Hill on Jan.6.
Representative Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, and his staff participated in a “day of shooting” with a Lisbon, Ohio-based company called ATG Worldwide in November 2018. According to its website, ATG offers courses weapons training. The company posted photos to Facebook showing Johnson and his staff firing a variety of guns at his range on November 13, 2018.
“We think he really enjoyed just putting tricks on the bottom of the ladder and not getting into politics,” ATG wrote in a post accompanying the photos.
Johnson’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
ATG Worldwide director Adam Newbold, a retired Navy SEAL, was reportedly questioned by the FBI after posting a video on Facebook the night of the attack in which he described a “breach in the Capitol.” This clip has since been removed. Neither ATG nor Newbold responded to requests for comment. However, on Tuesday, the company shared a video post from Newbold on its Facebook page. In it, he described being “angry with the leadership of our country” and driving a “caravan” to Capitol Hill on January 6.
“ATG organized a caravan to go to Washington DC and we organized to join a national caravan coming from all over the country,” Newbold said in the clip. “So it wasn’t just all the ATG members. These were not ATG members who were plotting and planning to take over the country. … All we did was plan and we invited anyone who wanted to go to ride with us.
In this video, Newbold defended his driving, including bringing knives and other equipment into the “trailer”.
“I make no apologies for being a tough man willing to do tough things in tough situations,” he said.
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