One day before a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, a Democratic lawmaker says she saw colleagues leading groups on “reconnaissance” tours of the building.
Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., made the startling claim in a Facebook Live broadcast on Tuesday night where she took aim at Republicans for inciting the pro-Trump mob that vandalized the Capitol and attacked police officers.
Sherrill, a former Navy helicopter pilot, described seeing “members of Congress who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5 for reconnaissance for the next day.”
“I’m going see that they’re held accountable,” Sherrill added.
Sherrill did not specifically identify which lawmakers she saw leading groups through the Capitol. Her office did not immediately respond to a message from The Washington Post late on Tuesday. The FBI and the U.S. Capitol Police also did not immediately respond to messages about whether the agencies are investigating the claim.
Sherrill aired her claims the same night that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said she feared GOP colleagues who were sympathetic to the rioters might give her up to the mob. Critics have also taken aim at one freshman GOP representative who tweeted out the location of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., during the chaos.
Several Capitol police officers have also been suspended and more than a dozen others are being investigated for suspected ties to rioters or for showing inappropriate support for last week’s attempted insurrection.
Sherrill, a second-term lawmaker who represents northern New Jersey, spent nearly 10 years on active duty as a helicopter pilot flying missions across Europe and the Middle East.
On Tuesday, she took to Facebook Live to give her account of the Capitol attack, which left one police officer dead and more than 50 injured. One rioter was fatally shot by U.S. Capitol police and three died of medical emergencies.
That afternoon, Sherrill recounted, she learned from messages on her phone that Vice President Mike Pence had been escorted to safety. Shortly after that, she said, Pelosi was rushed to a secure location.
“We attempted to continue the debate,” Sherrill said. “That became impossible as crowds gathered and started banging on the doors, so we were told to get out the gas masks in case we had to egress.”
Soon, Sherrill and her colleagues crouched on the floor for safety. She watched as some lawmakers called relatives “afraid that would be the last call that they ever made.” Sherrill said she called her husband to let him know she would soon walk to a safe room.
“We were worried that at every corner we would find the mob,” Sherrill said, referencing the evacuation.
Sherrill accused President Donald Trump of inciting the attack to “ensure that we could not have a peaceful transfer of power.” She also pointed a finger at GOP lawmakers who “abetted” Trump, and “those members of Congress who incited the violent crowd, those members of Congress that attempted to help our president undermine our democracy.”
Sherrill, who voted in favor of a resolution on Tuesday urging Pence to remove Trump through the 25th Amendment, vowed to hold accountable Republicans who backed the president’s false election fraud claims.
“We can’t have a democracy if members of Congress are actively helping the president overturn the election results,” she said.
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