Rep. Mikie Sherrill echoed an earlier call from Rep. Donald Payne, Jr., to investigate suspicious activity in the Capitol Complex the day before the deadly riots that unfolded Jan. 6.
Sherrill noted that access was heavily restricted following the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, and echoes concerns from Payne regarding the unprepared status of law enforcement around the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Meanwhile, Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr., hammered his colleague, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), for his role in the Capitol riot. And Rep. Josh Gottheimer requested information from the FBI in regards to planned attacks.
Sherrill Questions Timing of Visitors
Rep. Sherrill led 30 members of Congress in requesting an investigation from the Acting House Sergeant at Arms, Acting Senate Sergeant at Arms, and the U.S. Capitol Police regarding suspicious access given to some visitors on Jan. 5.
Sherrill leaned on her military experience, saying she was trained to recognize suspicious activity.
“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,” she wrote.
The letter contained some of the same sentiments she shared in a 15-minute Facebook video Jan. 12, which explained her decision to vote to impeach President Donald Trump a second time.
Payne Questions Readiness
In the video, she stated “I intend to see that those members of Congress who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5 for reconnaissance for the next day, that incited this violent crowd, the members of Congress that attempted to help our President undermine our democracy, I am going to see that they are held accountable and if necessary, ensure that they do not serve in Congress.”
Rep. Sherrill’s letter, which was also signed by Payne and Pascrell, followed Payne’s call for an investigation into Capitol Police the week before. Payne questioned why those officers failed to protect the Capitol Building before and during the riot on Jan. 6.
Specifically, the Congressman questioned why the rioters were met with minimal resistance, and why law enforcement was so unprepared for such an attack. He argued Black Lives Matter supporters were met with armed guards and military vehicles; during the Capitol riot, some police officers were seen opening barricades, among other suspicious activity.
Pascrell Blasts Biggs
“Capitol Police are there to defend our temple of democracy from all invaders, foreign and domestic, and I applaud the many officers who did just that,” stated Payne. “But too many officers were complicit in the siege. We need to know if these officers acted on their own or if they were told to stand down during this vicious and heinous act.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Pascrell blasted Rep. Biggs following reports that the Congressman worked with far-right extremists in organizing the violent mob that fell upon the Capitol. Biggs previously led a movement to censure Pascrell after he had sought the disbarment of President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. Pascrell argued Giuliani was utilizing frivolous lawsuits to overturn the election, a claim the New York State Bar Association began investigating.
“If any Members of Congress actively participated in planning the attack, that is treason. It is rich that Mr. Biggs demanded my censure and criminal prosecution for ‘threatening the livelihoods of American citizens’ after I sought the disbarment of Trump attorneys including Rudy Giuliani for filing frivolous lawsuits,” Pascrell said.
All of this comes as Gottheimer formally requested an FBI briefing on the current threat assessment and intelligence gathering for planned armed demonstrations in the coming days at the U.S. Capitol and State Capitols nationwide.
The FBI is anticipating large-scale armed demonstrations in all 50 states and in Washington, D.C. leading up to the Inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden. According to the state and federal officials, the organizers of these demonstrations include members of extremist groups, like the Oath Keepers, an organization the congressman singled out in his 2020 campaign of right wing extremists promoting hate online.
“I am deeply alarmed by reports of ‘storming’ State Capitols and the U.S. Capitol, especially given what transpired on January 61,” wrote Gottheimer in a letter this week to FBI Director Christopher Wray. “It is critically important that the deadly and damaging attack on the U.S. Capitol never be permitted to happen again, or be replicated at any of our state houses across the country.”