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New Jersey Rep. Mikie Sherrill Tells CBS2 About Concerns Over Capitol Tours Day Before Deadly Riot: 'It Seemed As If They Were Gathering Intelligence'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- More than 30 members of Congress signed a letter this week demanding an investigation into tours of the U.S. Capitol Building that were given before last week's attack.

New Jersey Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill first sounded the alarm about the tours that took place on Jan. 5 -- the day before the deadly riot.

CBS2's Alice Gainer spoke with Sherrill about what she saw in the building.

Q Gainer: "Are you able to identify those members of Congress who you saw giving tours on January 5?"

A Sherrill: "I spoke to some investigators about that, but I'm not talking about that publicly, because it now is under investigation."

WATCH: CBS2's Extended Interview With Congresswoman Sherrill 

Q: "What did you see, in regards to those tours, that set off alarm bells for you?"

A: "Just to give you a sense of it, I was just talking to a friend of mine, Ben McAdams, who is a Congressman from Utah, and he was telling me that he was taking his daughter, who is my daughter's age, and my daughter... over to the Capitol before Christmas to show them the Capitol. The security guard stopped him and said 'Sir, who are you?' and he explained, and 'Who are these kids?' and he explained. He said, 'No visitors, you can't be here.' Even Ben with his daughter and my daughter. He said, 'If it was just you, but those two can't be here.' So he stopped them and said they couldn't tour the Capitol.

"So fast-forward to Jan. 5, the day before we had a violent attack on the Capitol, there were groups -- a group of 10 to 15 people -- inside the Capitol complex. The Capitol had been basically a ghost town since about March. I could go from my office to the tunnel and see nobody in Longworth. So that was really jarring the day before the attack on the Capitol.

"Then when I began to hear the reports that there were military people involved, veterans involved in the group that attacked the Capitol, that there were police involved in the group that attacked, and how organized it was, and that they knew to target certain members' offices -- that group that was wandering around, that should not have been in the Capitol -- I began to be concerned. It seemed as if they were gathering intelligence then for the next day. It was so odd to see them there that my chief called the sergeant-at-arms to find out what this group was doing."

Q: "What were they wearing? Was there anything they were wearing that stood out to you? You mentioned they were there to gather intelligence, why do you think that that's what they were doing?"

A: "I think because they had been part of the larger group. We had been concerned that groups like the Proud Boys and the Boogaloo Boys, the violent extremists were coming into town. We had started to see people around the Capitol. Around the Capitol you often see people in suits. These were often more people casually dressed. You saw that they were starting to gather. Then inside the Capitol complex, it was a group of people [who] looked like they supported the president -- MAGA hats and Trump things -- and sort of were part of the larger groups that were there at the behest of the president."

MORE: New York City Sending Officers To Assist With Inauguration Day While Stepping Up Security Around Local Government Buildings

Q another reporter: "If indeed one of your colleagues or several of your colleagues knowingly or unknowingly gave reconnaissance tours to insurrectionists, what should happen to those colleagues?"

A: "I think that's something that really has to be investigated, because there is a possibility that they did not realize what some of these groups were doing, that they were groups of constituents -- and they should not have brought them into the Capitol complex. In fact, they had received, many of the members had received a security brief on Jan. 3, the sergeant-at-arms reposted for the new Congress information that there were no tours allowed, even tours given by members. So they should not have been in there.

"However, is it a difference between alerting members to security problems and what security problems their incursions caused? Or is it a problem of them actively helping these groups? That's what we need to investigate. If we have members of Congress that are giving comfort and aid to insurrectionists, then they can't serve in our government. They cannot serve in the Congress of the United States."

Q: "With the sergeant-at-arms stepping down, are you confident in the agencies that are taking up the investigation?"

A: "I have confidence in some of the agencies -- the sergeant-at-arms, the Capitol police are going through a reorganization and are focused in large part not only on what just happened but also on the coming inauguration and the security around the Capitol at that time, which has been taken over or will be taken over in the next day or two by the Secret Service. I believe that transfer has already occurred, I'd have to confirm that."

PHOTOS: FBI Searching For Suspects Who Stormed U.S. Capitol Building

Q another reporter: "How many lawmakers did you see leading these tours? Can you say whether they were Republicans or Democrats? Can you specify who is investigating -- is it the Capitol police and sergeant-at-arms?"

A: "I don't want to specify who they were, since it is an ongoing investigation. I have spoken to people at the FBI about this, and they called to ask about this."

Q: "Was it more than one member of Congress?"

A: "I don't really want to get into who it was at this time."

Q Gainer: "Did you actually speak with those people on your own after you saw this?"

A: "No, I did not speak with them at the time. I noted it, I thought it was odd, I called the sergeant-at-arms. It was really when we were attacked in the Capitol, and when we saw the strategic planning, and when we saw that certain members' offices were targeted and found very quickly, and they seemed to have an understanding of the layout, that I began to be very concerned that that group that should not have been in the Capitol, that seemed odd and seemed to be kind of roaming around was tied to that attack and some of the intelligence that they had."


Q another reporter: "Beyond the FBI, are you concerned that some of the agencies that seemed to have failed here are investigating themselves?"

A: "I think part of what myself and over 30 members of my colleagues have asked when we asked for an investigation into this, in part what we asked for were some of the procedures in place that day. Because part of the investigation, I think, also has to involve an understanding of how we prevent this kind of thing from happening, and why did it happen?"

The congresswoman said she has already spoken to the FBI and would not say how many members were giving the tours.

The acting House and Senate Sergeants-At-Arms and the Capitol Police did not return a request for comment.


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