His remarks came during a Wednesday congressional hearing aimed at understanding the security lapses that led up to the Jan. 6 riot, which left one police officer and four others dead, 140 officers injured and members of Congress holed up for hours in secure locations. Clyde was among a handful of Republicans who sought to recast the incident, claiming that calling it an insurrection was “a boldfaced lie.”
He said there was “an undisciplined mob, there were some rioters and some who committed acts of vandalism” but “no insurrection.”
“Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes, taking videos and pictures,” Clyde continued. “You know, if you didn’t know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.”
He noted that he helped barricade the door and that the House floor wasn’t breached. But many have pointed to a contradiction between Clyde’s comments and what the photographs showed. Observers on Twitter, including lawmakers and anti-Trump super PAC the Lincoln Project, mocked and denounced Clyde’s comparison, questioning why the congressman would have hurried to barricade the door to tourists.
“Is that you in the picture? Do you remember? Insurrectionists were trying to stop the election certification,” wrote Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.). “This was not, as you now say, a ‘normal tourist visit.’ 140 police officers were injured, some severely. You should apologize to law enforcement.”
Tom Williams, a CQ Roll Call photographer who captured the image of Clyde barricading the door, described the moment as chaotic and tense. During a Tuesday appearance on CNN, he said rioters broke glass and banged on doors as police drew their guns and ordered members of Congress to get down.
The photographer said he went through his Jan. 6 photos and found the one of Clyde after hearing his comments and recognizing him as among those who barricaded the door. Williams shared it Friday on Twitter.
“I just thought, since the story’s out there, let’s get these pictures out so people can see for themselves,” he said on CNN.
Clyde’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Asked last week about his remarks on the Capitol assault, the congressman told reporters that the media “didn’t take what I said in context at all.” Then he walked away, ignoring other questions as he climbed into a pickup truck.
At least two Republican House members condemned their colleagues’ attempts to recast the events of Jan. 6.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said Friday on ABC’s “The View” that such efforts from Clyde and his fellow Republicans were like “something you see out of North Korea, where it’s like, ‘We’re just going to state whatever we want the reality to be.’ ”
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) described the claims of some GOP lawmakers as “absolutely bogus” during a Sunday appearance on CNN.
The two were among 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former president Donald Trump for “incitement of insurrection.”
In a Gainesville Times guest column defending his comments, Clyde blasted Republicans for not being in lockstep. He called the Jan. 6 incident “horrendous” and said “violence is never an acceptable form of protest.” But he also accused “the Swamp” of attacking him.