IG leaves key question about incursion into congressman's office unanswered

Outside during the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot (Wikimedia Commons)
Outside during the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot (Wikimedia Commons)

An internal federal investigation has failed to answer the question about why a Capitol police officer in Washington invaded the office of a Republican member of Congress while he was absent, and photographed some of the member’s work product.

But Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, whose office was invaded, says he has an opinion.

“I personally believe that Nancy Pelosi has weaponized the U.S. Capitol Police as her own investigations unit,” Nehls said in an interview with the “Just the News, Not Noise” television program.

“She goes after anybody that has dissenting points of views. I obviously have been a very vocal critic of the January 6th committee and the events of January 6.”

WND reported in February that there had been accusations that Capitol police may have been surveilling elected members of Congress and their visitors.

At the time the Federalist said the inspector general for the USCP had opened a formal investigation into the behavior of “the law enforcement agency tasked with securing the Capitol.”

One of the situations that prompted the review was an incident last November when an officer went into Nehls’ congressional office and photographed a whiteboard containing various legislative plans.

The officer claimed he noticed that the office door was open, and he saw the whiteboard and photographed it.

However, Just the News reported the inspector general’s report confirmed that the door could not have been standing open.

“All three doors only open inward into the office suite and would close automatically when released,” the IG said. “All three doors also automatically locked when closed during the examination.”

Nehls earlier criticized the officer’s actions, and expressed suspicion.

“If Capitol Police leadership had spent as much time preparing for January 6 as they spent investigating my white board, the January 6 riot never would have happened,” the former law enforcement officer said in the Federalist report. “When I was a patrol officer responding to a call, I didn’t have the time or authority to go rifling through someone’s personal papers. There are serious 4th Amendment, constitutional issues at play here.”

Nehls pointed out his staff caught police officers, in plain clothes, inside his office without his knowledge and they were photographing “confidential legislative products.”

The officers returned later, while Congress was in recess, to try to enter his office again, he said.

Just the News obtained a copy of the IG’s report on the investigation and reviewed it, explaining the conclusions were that the officer exercised “questionable judgment” and the department lacked policies and training on intrusions into lawmakers’ constitutionally protected work.

The IG said the incident exposed the need for Capitol Police to strike a “proper balance of protecting congressional representatives and their staff from physical outside threats while simultaneously protecting their legislative proposals and work product from possibly inappropriate photography, scrutiny, and questioning.”

Nehls told Just the News of his disappointment that the investigation failed to resolve that key question of the officer’s claim about why he entered the office during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Nehls said that failure only raises his concerns that police targeted him for investigation for political reasons because of his criticisms of the partisan commission assembled by Pelosi to “investigate” the Jan. 6 riot.

That commission has interviewed hundreds, threatened members of Congress with subpoenas and appears largely to be focusing on trying to pin blame on Republicans, specifically President Trump, for the riot. It’s partisan because Pelosi refused to seat Republicans nominated by their own party to the commission.

The police department issued a statement to Just the News after the report came out:

“In February, a U.S. Representative claimed that we illegally investigated and spied on him and his staff. The allegations were made after one of our vigilant officers noticed the door to the Congressman’s office suite had been left open during the Thanksgiving weekend. The U.S. Representative was never under criminal investigation. His staff was never under criminal investigation.”

The IG also pointed out the police department had “deficiencies” including outdated guidance, and it failed to have procedures for such situations.

The key question about the officer’s reason for entering the office remained in dispute by the department. But not by the IG.

“The only method of keeping one of these doors open on its own would be to prop it open with an object or to set the lock bolt in place when the door was open, in which case the door would only partially close due to the lock bolt preventing the door from fully closing,” the report said.

The IG also found this case was the only time the officer ever used his department-issued smart phone to photograph something, and his target was the congressman’s internal planning processes.

It’s not the only time such issues have risen.

WND also reported when U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, accused the Democrats in congressional power of intercepting and marking his mail.

“In January, my staff received a letter addressed to my official office from a Christian missionary, which was already opened and stamped ‘DOJ MAILROOM’ with a date and ‘X-RAYED’ on the stamp. Last week, my office received a second piece of mail from a constituent, mailed from east Texas and postmarked September 2021. It took four-and-a-half months to reach my office and was also opened and bore a stamp from the DOJ,” he explained.

“It is deeply concerning that Legislative Branch mail is somehow being co-mingled with Executive Branch mail when we have completely different proprietary zip codes. We are separate but co-equal branches of government. Even if it were a mistake to deliver Congress’ mail to the DOJ, the DOJ has an obligation to immediately notify Congress and forward the mail without opening it,” he said.

“It is gravely concerning that since congressional mail is constitutionally protected under the Speech and Debate Clause of the Constitution, it could be routed, intentionally or not, through the highly partisan DOJ,” he said.

“This is felonious behavior.”

He said, “Given reports breaking today of an Inspector General’s investigation being opened after another Republican member alleged Speaker Pelosi’s Capitol Police were in his personal office photographing his work product, the Democrats’ spying on political opponents appears to know no end.”

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