Key House lawmaker says he may make referrals for obstruction, ethics against Dem J6 panel

“As far as holding people accountable, yes, they should be,” Rep. Barry Loudermilk told Just the News.
Barry Loudermilk, Washington, D.C., June 24, 2021

The House Republican leading the current review of security and intelligence failures during the 2021 Capitol riot put former lawmakers and staff on the now-defunct Democrat-run Jan. 6 committee on notice Wednesday that he may make referrals for criminal obstruction or House ethics violations.

Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga,, the chairman of the House Administration Oversight Subcommittee, told Just the News he is frustrated that videotapes of interviews, transcripts and other evidence that Congress gathered under the prior Jan. 6 inquiry run by Democrats was deleted, destroyed, moved to other federal agencies or locked behind passwords that have not been recovered, and he believes some form of accountability is warranted.

“As far as holding people accountable, yes, they should be,” Loudermilk said during an interview with Just the News, No Noise television show. “But I think that's going to be a little ways down the road, because there is so much more information that we need to get. And we need to build not only this, to get the truth out to the American people, but see just how big this case potentially is for obstructing.”

Loudermilk also took a shot at Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the former chairman of the Jan 6 Select Committee, saying he believes Thompson left control of decisions of the committee to his former Republican vice chairwoman, ex-Rep. Liz Cheney.

“There's still documents that we need to get hold off. We still don't have passwords for the encrypted documents,” Loudermilk said. “It's amazing that you know, when I asked the former Chairman Bennie Thompson, ‘all I want you to do is give me the passwords.’ He said, ‘I don't even know what you're talking about.’

“Well, I think it's coming down to he probably didn't, because now new information we're getting is that Liz Cheney ran that committee,” Loudermlk added.

A spokesman for Thompson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lawmakers and congressional staff enjoy significant immunity from punishment, at least in criminal court, for their official actions in Congress under the Constitution’s separation of powers.

Loudermilk said he will decide on a possible course for seeking accountability after his subcommittee resolves access to the evidence that is still missing and determines responsibility. He said options range from a criminal referral to DOJ for obstruction to censure by Congress or a referral to the House Ethics Committee for investigation.

“Those are options. We also have to look at what other options are there. There’s also censure-ship, ethics, obviously, but also consider there are members of that Select Committee who are no longer members of Congress. So they may fall under a different scenario,” he said.

“So we do have the tools of members of Congress, but also, active members of Congress have certain protections. So we'll have to work on that. Because as you talked about earlier, we're in uncharted territory right now. And so we're going to have to work through this,” he added.

Loudermilk's comments come just two days after his panel released an explosive interim report of findings – which was publicly touted by House Speaker Mike Johnson.

That report disclosed Monday that the House Democrat-led Jan. 6 committee withheld crucial evidence from the public, including witness interviews that conflicted with the testimony of star witness Cassidy Hutchinson and her claim then-President Donald Trump tried to commandeer his presidential SUV and take it to the U.S. Capitol that day.

The report provided evidence contradicting several claims that Democrats made in their final Jan. 6 inquiry report in December 2022. 

For the first time, Loudermilk’s report released information from the Secret Service driver who took Trump to his Jan. 6, 2021, speech on the Ellipse and back to the White House. The driver, who wasn’t identified by name, directly contradicted Hutchinson’s story about Trump trying to grab the wheel of the presidential SUV and take it to the Capitol, the report said.

“The driver testified that he specifically refuted the version of events as recounted by Hutchinson,” the report states. "The driver of the SUV testified that he 'did not see him reach [redacted]. [President Trump] never grabbed the steering wheel. I didn’t see him, you know, lunge to try to get into the front seat at all.'”

Congressional officials confirmed to Just the News Cheney, the vice chairwoman of the Jan. 6 committee run by Democrats, personally participated in the interview of the Secret Service driver and was aware of his statements contradicting Hutchinson. 

Thompson, D-Miss., the chairman of the Democrat J6 committee, acknowledged his committee considered the Secret Service driver's testimony and that its emergence now from Republicans was a distraction.

"Loudermilk is merely trying to deflect from Donald Trump's responsibility for the violence of January 6 and his own refusal to answer the select committee's questions," Thompson said,

The report also concludes that Trump did, in fact, instruct his staff ahead of Jan. 6 to offer 10,000 National Guard troops to the Capitol for extra security and that the tragedy could have been prevented had Capitol Police, Washington D.C. officials and congressional leaders better heeded intelligence suggesting there would be violence that day.

“The events of January 6, 2021, were preventable,” the report concluded. “The politicization of Capitol security directly contributed to the many structural and procedural failures witnessed that day.”