FIRST ON FOX: The House select committee that investigated the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021 failed to adequately preserve documents, data and video depositions – including communications it had with the Biden White House that are still missing – according to the Republican lawmaker overseeing the GOP investigation into the committee’s work.
The now-disbanded “J6” committee, which was run by Democrats and included only two GOP members, has also failed to provide any evidence that it looked into Capitol Hill security failures on the day of the riot, Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight for the Committee on House Administration, told Fox News Digital.
Loudermilk said his staff has had difficulty gathering all the information it needs to investigate Rep. Bennie Thompson’s handling of the J6 investigation.
“Part of our task as this oversight subcommittee is to actually address the security failures, look into how did it happen… how were these folks able to get into the Capitol,” Loudermilk said. He said the documents they obtained came over in boxes and was completely unorganized.
“Nothing was indexed. There was no table of contents index. Usually when you conduct this level of investigation, you use a database system and everything is digitized, indexed. We got nothing like that. We just got raw data,” he said. “So it took us a long time going through it and one thing I started realizing is we don’t have anything much at all from the Blue Team.”
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The “Blue Team,” as described by Loudermilk, represents the group within the J6 committee that was directed to investigate security failures at the Capitol. Loudermilk explained that sources have told him the Blue Team was essentially “shut down” by the committee in order to focus on placing the blame on former President Trump.
“We’ve got lots of depositions, we’ve got lots of subpoenas, we’ve got video and other documents provided through subpoenas by individuals. But we’re not seeing anything from the Blue Team as far as reports on the investigation they did looking into the actual breach itself,” he said.
“What we also realized we didn’t have was the videos of all the depositions,” Loudermilk added.
Loudermilk said he has been contacted by a defense attorney that needed access to key information in one of the video depositions, and the committee realized it did not have the videos he was seeking.
Fox News Digital obtained correspondence letters between Loudermilk and Thompson’s offices in which the two disagreed on whether the J6 committee preserved what it was required to under House rules.
Loudermilk says Thompson’s committee was required by law and House rules to preserve and turn over all data related to their investigation at the end of the congressional term in December, and Loudermilk said as much to Thompson in a letter on June 26.
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In response, Thompson wrote a letter saying that Loudermilk’s letter had many “factual errors” and claimed his committee had followed the rules and turned over “4 terabytes” of data.
Loudermilk told Fox News Digital that his committee has only received 2.5 terabytes of data and said the first footnote in Thompson’s letter to him on July 7 acknowledged they did not keep what they were supposed to.
In that footnote, Thompson wrote, “Consistent with guidance from the Office of the Clerk and other authorities, the Select Committee did not archive temporary committee records that were not elevated by the Committee’s actions, such as use in hearings or official publications, or those that did not further its investigative activities. Accordingly, and contrary to your letter’s implication, the Select Committee was not obligated to archive all video recordings of transcribed interviews or depositions. Based on guidance from House authorities, the Select Committee determined that the written transcripts provided by nonpartisan, professional official reporters, which the witnesses and Select Committee staff had the opportunity to review for errata, were the official, permanent records of transcribed interviews and depositions for the purposes of rule VII.”
“He’s saying they decided they didn’t have to,” Loudermilk told Fox News Digital. “It was clear in law they had to especially and, I mean, if there was any question, the fact that they used the videos in the hearings would dictate that it had to be preserved. The more we go in the more we’re realizing that there’s things that we don’t have. We don’t have anything about security failures at the Capitol, we don’t have the videos of the depositions.”
Republicans have long maintained that many security warnings were ignored leading up to the Capitol Hill riot which was supported by Steven A. Sund, former chief of the Capitol Police, who wrote in his book that several government agencies had intelligence of a brewing threat but failed to communicate that with Capitol Police.
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“Leadership and law enforcement failures within the U.S. Capitol left the complex vulnerable on January 6, 2021,” a Republican led investigation concluded last year. “The Democrat-led investigation in the House of Representatives, however, has disregarded those institutional failings that exposed the Capitol to violence that day.”
Additionally, Loudermilk said he came across a letter that was not turned over to his committee from Thompson to White House special counsel Richard Sauber and DHS discussing an “agreement” made between the J6 committee and the executive branch to interview personnel whose names were later redacted.
“No version of the letter to Mr. Sauber — either redacted or unredacted — or the letter to the DHS General Counsel was archived by the Select Committee or provided to this Committee,” Loudermilk wrote to Thompson. “Additionally, there is no explanation of what transcripts these letters are referring to or why you — in coordination with then Speaker Pelosi — did not immediately archive the records with the Clerk.”
“Why didn’t they preserve this?” Loudermilk said to Fox News Digital. “Did they not want us to know that there were documents that they had sent back to the executive branch?”
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On the communication it had with the White House, Thompson wrote in his letter to Loudermilk that the “Select Committee did not have the opportunity to properly archive that material with the rest of its records with the benefit of the Executive Branch’s guidance to ensure witness safety, our national security, and law enforcement sensitive information.”
In a letter to both the White House counsel and DHS counsel sent Tuesday, Loudermilk asked to “arrange for the return of all original documents and records related to the events of January 6, 2021” that the White House and DHS posses “that originated from the Select Committee.”
“The heavily redacted letter memorializing the ‘loan’ of documents to the White House was published as part of the Government Publishing Office’s public release of documents from the Select Committee,” Loudermilk wrote. “However, the original, unredacted letter from the Select Committee to you, as well as the records referenced in the letter, were not provided to the Committee on House Administration as required by House Rules.”
Loudermilk asked the White House to provide “All documents that were transmitted or transferred to the White House by the Select Committee at any time in complete, original, and unredacted form” along with the unredacted communications between Thompson’s committee and the White House at the end of the last Congress.
Loudermilk told Fox News Digital it has been a struggle to not only find all the documents, but to figure out what they are even missing in the first place.
“We’re looking at the security failure at the Capitol and we’re looking at how the January 6 committee operated itself and right now we’re having so much trouble with the January 6 committee and how it operated that It’s really impending our ability to investigate thoroughly the security failures at the Capitol,” Loudermilk said.
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“We’ve got enough to know that there was a huge intelligence failure,” Loudermilk said. “I think Chairman Thompson’s response to me is indicting of him. It’s almost like saying, okay, yeah, we decided not to give you stuff. And I’m reading it as, Oh, you decided not to give us the things that you didn’t want us to see. I mean, that’s kind of the way you have to look at this.”
Fox News Digital reached out to Rep. Thompson’s office and the White House but did not receive a response.
“DHS responds to Congressional correspondence directly via official channels, and the Department will continue to respond appropriately to Congressional oversight,” a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson told Fox News Digital.
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Loudermilk told Fox News Digital his committee is “aggressively” continuing to gather all the records it can to clear up “factual errors” in the previous committee’s final report, including the security failures.