During an interview on Monday, Rep. Steve Cohen, a Democrat from Tennessee, said he spotted Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert leading a group of people through the Capitol in the days leading up to the insurrection.
“Congressman Yarmuth refreshed my recollection yesterday: We saw [Congresswoman] Boebert taking a group of people for a tour sometime after the 3rd and before the 6th,” Cohen told CNN anchor Jim Sciutto. “She had a large group with her. Now whether they were the people involved in the [riot] or not, we don’t know.”
Since Boebert is a freshman member, Cohen speculated that she may have invited “a large number of people to be with her on this historic occasion”—by which I assume Cohen means friends or family with whom she would like to celebrate getting sworn into Congress for the first time.
“But it was pretty clear that ... she is not on the home team,” Cohen said. “She was with the visitors.”
Boebert denied the allegations in a text to USA Today reporter Christal Hayes, writing, “I did not give any tours between Jan 3rd and 6th.” In a full press release, Boebert later called Cohen’s allegations “100% false:” “I have never given a tour of the U.S. Capitol to anyone besides family members in town for my swearing in,” Boebert said. “As Members of Congress, we have a duty to elevate the discourse and unify during times of crisis. Unfortunately, Rep. Cohen instead chose to go on CNN today to repeat irresponsible lies in order to elevate his own political relevance and to further fuel the division of our country.”
Cohen is not the only lawmaker to raise suspicions about Republican colleagues’ potential role in aiding Trump supporters’ plans to storm the Capitol. Last week 30 House Democrats sent a letter to the acting House and Senate sergeants-at-arms, as well as the acting Capitol Police chief, demanding information about lawmakers who may have brought guests into the building before the riots. According to the letter, some lawmakers who had witnessed tours on Jan. 5, the day before the breach, reported their observations to security.
The apparent tours raised a red flag for some members because tours of the Capitol have been banned since March due to the pandemic.
“The visitors encountered by some of the Members of Congress on this letter appeared to be associated with the rally at the White House the following day,” the letter reads. “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.”
These are serious allegations, to be sure; but the general idea that some Republican members of Congress may have communicated with rioters is not entirely without basis. Ali Alexander, the lead organizer of the Capitol riots, claimed in December that he was working with three Republican lawmakers to coordinate the Jan. 6 event: Reps. Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, and Mo Brooks.
“So we’re the four guys who came up with a January 6 event,” Alexander said in a live stream, reported on by the Intercept. “ And it was to build momentum and pressure, and then on the day change hearts and minds of congresspeoples who weren’t yet decided, or saw everyone outside and said, ‘I can’t be on the other side of that mob.’”
Because there has still been no formal investigation into these claims, there is still little concrete evidence to back them up. But considering everything we’ve learned in the last couple of weeks, it seems like a high time to start looking.