August 5, 2021
On the night of December 12, last year—the day of the first Stop the Steal rally in Washington, D.C., and three weeks ahead of the January 6 Capitol insurrection—several guests of then-Representative-elect Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado) received exclusive after-hours tour of the Capitol building from the far-right firebrand, Raw Story reports.
There are several unanswered questions about this visit, which appears to have violated normal Capitol protocol in various ways. It’s not clear who authorized it, since Boebert was not yet a member of Congress and had no official standing in D.C. It’s perhaps even stranger that it occurred on a Saturday night, when the Capitol complex is closed.
Later, in the aftermath of the January 6 attack, Boebert repeatedly denied rumors that she had offered “reconnaissance tours” to would-be rioters shortly before that event. But her ambiguous comments appeared to avoid any specific discussion of this unexplained December tour.
According to materials reviewed by Salon, the December 12 tour led by Boebert involved various parts of the Capitol complex, including the staircase in the Senate’s empty Brumidi Corridors, Senate room S-127 and the Senate briefing room, as well as the then-vacant Capitol Rotunda.
A maskless Capitol Police officer accompanied Boebert’s mother and teenage son to the observation deck at the top of the Capitol Dome for a photo taken by a fourth person—presumably Boebert herself. This is the culmination of any Capitol tour—only available to visitors hosted by a member of Congress—and involves an arduous climb up roughly 300 steep and winding stairs to reach the high perch overlooking the city.
Boebert’s guests were clearly enjoying themselves, but everything about their presence on the observation deck alongside a Capitol Police officer remains unexplained. As mentioned above, the rules for observation deck tours stipulate that a member of Congress and an official guide must accompany each group that climbs the Capitol Dome. There’s no indication that either a member or a guide was present on this occasion.
Furthermore, spots for such tours are not readily available, with only eight reservations available on any given day. It’s true that Boebert was a member-elect at the time, but that’s an important distinction: She certainly was not a sworn member of Congress and had no office, no staff, and no official status in the Capitol complex. It’s even more puzzling that this tour took place on Saturday night. The guidelines for member-led Capitol tours state they are only available on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and also that all visitors must sign liability waivers; and all tours must be led by official Capitol guides, not Capitol Police officers.
U.S. Capitol Police didn’t immediately return Salon’s request for comment on this story.
After Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington), and other lawmakers accused Boebert of “involvement in instigating and aiding the violent riot at the Capitol Building” after January 6, Boebert responded by saying that she hadn’t given tours to anyone but her family during the 117th Congress, which began on January 3, the day she was sworn in as a member.
Her choice of words was notably specific, and potentially significant: “I haven’t given a tour of the U.S. Capitol in the 117th Congress to anyone but family,” she said, specifically not addressing the unauthorized tour she seems to have given during the 116th Congress.
Research contact: @RawStory