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Now, two Democratic lawmakers say they personally saw one Republican — Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado — with a “large” group in a tunnel connected to the Capitol days before the attempted insurrection that left four rioters and one police officer dead.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) said on Monday that he and Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) had both seen Boebert in the tunnel outside the Cannon House Office Building with a group sometime in the three days before the riots. He said he didn’t know who was in the group or if anyone with Boebert later participated in the attack.
“Congressman [John] Yarmuth refreshed my recollection yesterday,” Cohen told Jim Sciutto on “CNN Newsroom.” “We saw Boebert taking a group of people for a tour sometime after the 3rd and before the 6th. … Now whether these people were people that were involved in the insurrection or not, I do not know.”
Boebert, a gun rights advocate with links to the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, called Cohen’s remarks “false” and “slanderous” in a letter sent to the congressman on Monday, which she also shared on Twitter. Boebert said she had taken a number of family members into the Capitol on Jan. 2 for a tour and Jan. 3 to take pictures on the day she was sworn into office, but had not given any other tours.
“I haven’t given a tour of the U.S. Capitol in the 117th Congress to anyone but family,” Boebert said on Twitter.
Neither Cohen nor Boebert’s offices immediately responded to messages from The Washington Post early on Tuesday.
Cohen’s claims are the latest tumultuous episode for Boebert, whose spokesman resigned after the Jan. 6 riots as she faced blowback for voting against certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory and for tweeting about the location of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) during the attack. Dozens of Colorado lawmakers have also demanded her resignation.
Last week, a group of Democrats asked congressional security officials to investigate “suspicious behavior and access given to visitors” one day before the Jan. 6 attack. In the days before the pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol building, the Democrats said, lawmakers and their staffers witnessed an “extremely high number of outside groups” touring the Capitol, which closed its doors to the public in March as a coronavirus precaution.
Although Maloney didn’t name her in his interview, Boebert on Thursday denied she had had anything to do with the incident. Boebert sent a letter to Maloney last week accusing him of implying that she was the House member who had given tours to “insurrectionists,” and said she had been subject to “death threats and hundreds of vile phone calls and emails” as a result.
On Monday, Cohen became the first Democrat to accuse Boebert of leading a tour of the Capitol before the riots.
Cohen told CNN said he was walking in a tunnel with Yarmuth when he saw Boebert leading a “large” crowd, noting the circumstances of the encounter were not clear to him.
“She was a freshman. She might have had a large number of people coming to be with her on this historic occasion and just wanting to give them the opportunity to have a tour,” Cohen told CNN.
A spokesperson with Cohen told the network he has not reported the incident to the FBI or Capitol Police. The FBI and Capitol Police did not immediately respond to a message from The Post late on Monday.
Christopher Schuler, a spokesman for Yarmuth, echoed Cohen’s story, saying Yarmuth was walking through the Cannon Tunnel back to his office on either Jan. 3 or 4 when he spotted Boebert walking “in the direction of the Capitol” surrounded by a group. Schuler added Yarmuth is unsure whether the group of people was actually with Boebert.
“While congressman Yarmuth remembers there was a group of people around congresswoman Boebert, he has no knowledge of who they were or if they were with her,” Schuler said in an email. “He simply exchanged greetings with a new colleague and continued on his way.”
In the letter to Cohen, Boebert said it was unfortunate that the congressman would tie her family’s visit to the Capitol to commemorate her swearing-in to the Capitol riots, highlighting that only her young children, husband, mother, aunt and uncle accompanied her those two days. Near the end of the letter, on which Boebert also cc’d Sherrill and Maloney, the congresswoman added that her family and her staff had received several threats following Cohen’s remarks.
“In the future, if you have concerns about my actions, as a fellow Member of Congress, please speak with me before making baseless and dangerous allegations,” Boebert said in the letter. “This basic professional courtesy would have allowed you to avoid the embarrassment of being caught in a dangerous lie that has compromised the safety of a Congresswoman, her family, and her staff.”