NJ congresswoman says GOP gave rioters tours; State Police leader criticizes Trump
A North Jersey congresswoman says she saw fellow representatives giving tours to people who a day later would participate in the U.S. Capitol attack by some Trump supporters.
U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J. 11th District, who was in the House chamber during the riot last Wednesday, said during a Facebook Live on Tuesday that she saw members providing "reconnaissance for the next day."
“Those members of Congress that incited this violent crowd, those members of Congress that attempted to help our president undermine our democracy, I'm going to see they are held accountable, and if necessary, ensure that they don't serve in Congress,” Sherrill said.
On Wednesday, Sherrill joined nearly three dozen other lawmakers calling for an investigation by the Capitol Police and the sergeant at arms.
"The tours being conducted on Tuesday, January 5, were a noticeable and concerning departure from the procedures in place as of March 2020 that limited the number of visitors at the Capitol," the letter says.
"Many of the Members who signed this letter, including those of us who have served in the military and are trained to recognize suspicious activity, as well as various members of our staff, witnessed an extremely high number of outside groups in the complex on Tuesday, January 5," the letter adds. "This is unusual for several reasons, including the fact that access to the Capitol Complex has been restricted since public tours ended in March due to the pandemic. We found these tours so concerning that senior staff questioned the SAA on January 5 about what was taking place."
The letter points out that "members of the group that attacked the Capitol seemed to have an unusually detailed knowledge of the layout of the Capitol Complex. The presence of these groups within the Capitol Complex was indeed suspicious."
Among the questions the letter asks police officials is whether any law enforcement agencies have access to any logs of visitors and whether any rules require House members to log in guests. The letter also asks whether any video exists of the tours and whether facial recognition technology is used in the building.
Sherrill did not name the members she saw, indicate how she knew the individuals were involved with planning the riot or if she had reported any of them to the FBI. Her office did not immediately return New Jersey 101.5's request for more information on Wednesday afternoon.
Signing onto her letter were New Jersey Democratic representative Frank Pallone Jr., Tom Malinowski, Donald Payne Jr., Bill Pascrell Jr., Albio Sires and Josh Gottheimer.
She also held President Donald Trump responsible for the insurrection, saying she would support his second impeachment and would ask Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. Pence already has declined to do so.
"This president needs to be removed and we need to ensure that he cannot run for office again. We need to ensure he doesn't have access to intelligence. We need to make sure of that because I believe this president will just use that for his own personal gain. And we need to make sure that all of those people who were complicit with this president, who aided and abetted him in his drive to overturn the election results that the people voted on are held accountable too," Sherrill said.
State Police leader slams Trump
State Police Superintendent Pat Callahan on Tuesday night criticized Trump for his role in Wednesday's attack, in which police officers were beaten, injured and one was killed.
Callahan said that “the president’s role in what we all witnessed last week in Washington, D.C. runs directly counter to the core principles of ‘Honor, Duty, and Fidelity,’ upon which the State Police was founded 100 years ago.”
The State Police previously presented a ceremonial badge with the number 45 to Trump at the White House. Police agencies in the state supported the administration's efforts to get Cuba to extradite fugitive Joann Chesimard, who now goes by Assata Shakur.
“Contrary to reporting, the badge number and the president’s name do not appear on the State Police’s roll call roster, and the badge does not confer any rights or privileges upon the President,” Callahan said in a written statement.
The private presentation in the Oval Office was made during Police Week in appreciation for his support to return Joann Chesimard to the U.S. from Cuba, a State Police spokesman said at the time.
Coverage of the presentation by New Jersey 101.5 and NJ.com stated Trump was made an “honorary member” of the State Police, an honor bestowed to only one other person, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf in 1996. His father, H. Norman Schwarzkopf, was the founding leader of the New Jersey State Police.
Call for Hunterdon official's resignation
Two groups are seeking the resignation of Hunterdon County Board of Commissioners Director Susan Soloway for attending the Trump rally that resulted in an attack on the Capitol.
Soloway told the New Jersey Globe she was at the rally with the group Hunterdon County Federated Republican Women but left when they saw things growing out of control. She said she did not enter the Capitol.
“When is enough enough for the Republican Party?” the Hunterdon County Democratic Committee said in a statement posted on its Facebook page. "When do Republican elected officials stand up and say, Donald Trump you do not represent me or my values. When do the Republicans in Hunterdon County say those words? When do they ask Susan Soloway to resign after going to the U.S. Capital as part of a group of people that certainly do not represent the citizens if the great county of Hunterdon."
The Hunterdon County Anti-Racism Coalition posted an online petition calling for her to “denounce white supremacy and resign” her position.
Hunterdon County supported Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election 54-40% and over Joe Biden 51%-46% in 2020.