On Tuesday, Congressman Troy Nehls (R-TX) alleged that last November, U.S. Capitol Police “entered [his] office without [his] knowledge and photographed confidential legislative products” on one occasion and that undercover agents entered later that same week, only this time dressed as construction workers, who then questioned a member of his staff. As a result of that incident and others reported by Republican lawmakers, the Office of the U.S. Capitol Police Inspector’s General has opened an official investigation into whether or not Capitol Police have been spying on GOP lawmakers and for what purpose.
The Federalist first reported that the Capitol Police I.G. “has opened a formal investigation into whether the law enforcement agency tasked with securing the Capitol has been inappropriately surveilling elected members of Congress, their staff, and visitors to their offices.”
“The opening of the investigation follows news reports and accusations from lawmakers that USCP has overstepped its bounds as it tries to recover from the January 6 riots that tarnished both the Capitol and the reputation of the law enforcement agency that was supposed to keep it safe,” The Federalist added.
The Federalist also reported that Nehls’ office was targeted by police:
Suspicions that USCP may not be acting appropriately did not arise in a vacuum, however. In November 2021, a USCP officer entered the congressional office of Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Tex., and took a photo of a whiteboard in Nehls’ legislative office detailing various legislative plans being considered by Nehls and his staff. In a formal police report filed several days after the incident, the officer wrote that he had been conducting a routine security patrol on Saturday, November 21, and discovered that one of the doors to Nehls’ office was open.
The report claimed that the officer entered Nehls’ office and found a whiteboard that contained “suspicious writings mentioning body armor[.]” The officer reportedly took a photo of the whiteboard, which was then passed around to analysts within USCP. The following Monday, USCP dispatched three plain-clothed intelligence officers to Nehls’ office and questioned a staffer who was there about the whiteboard and the legislative proposals it contained.
Nehls’ confirmed this reporting, tweeting on Tuesday, ” The @CapitolPolice Intelligence Division investigated my office illegally and one of my staffers caught them in the act.”
“On November 20th, 2021, Capitol Police entered my office without my knowledge and photographed confidential legislative products protected by the Speech and Debate clause enshrined in the Constitution, Article 1 Section 6,” the Texas congressman continued.
“Two days later on Monday November 22, 2021 (Thanksgiving week), three intelligence officers attempted to enter my office while the House was in recess,” Nehls said. “Upon discovering a member of my staff, special agents dressed like construction workers began to question him as to the contents of a photograph taken illegally two days earlier.”
“@CapitolPolice never informed myself or senior level staff of their investigation and the reasons are clear,” Nehls claimed. “They had no authority to photograph my office, let alone investigate myself or members of my staff. So, why is the Capitol Police Leadership maliciously investigating me in an attempt to destroy me and my character?”
“Maybe it is because I have been a vocal critic of @SpeakerPelosi, the @January6thCmte, and @CapitolPolice leadership about their handling of January 6th, the death of Ashli Babbitt and the subsequent SHAM investigation,” Nehls concluded.
For their part, Capitol Police denied Nehls’ assertions of wrongdoing via a statement from Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger:
This morning a U.S. Representative complained about one of our vigilant officers. Chief Manger stands by his officer.
“The United States Capitol Police is sworn to protect Members of Congress. If a Member’s office is left open and unsecured, without anyone inside the office, USCP officers are directed to document that and secure the office to ensure nobody can wander in and steal or do anything else nefarious. The weekend before Thanksgiving, one of our vigilant officers spotted the Congressman’s door was wide open. That Monday, USCP personnel personally followed up with the Congressman’s staff and determined no investigation or further action of any kind was needed. No case investigation was ever initiated or conducted into the Representative or his staff.” – U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger
Even if they were carrying out security measures, some Republicans have pointed out they may be political in nature.
Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL) told The Federalist that his “main concern” with Capitol Police carrying out security procedures is that, “the entire Capitol Police board structure is dependent on political leadership to make security decisions,”
“Security decisions are being made based on politics, not on real data,” he added.
“There are way too many unanswered questions,” Davis added. “The Capitol Police have a lot of explaining to do.”
Nehls also asserted that Manger’s statement claiming “No case investigation was ever initiated or conducted into the Representative or his staff” was a “bold-faced lie.”