Pro-Trump extremists clash with law enforcement at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Alex Kent for Tennessee Lookout)
Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert is facing new calls to resign or be removed from Congress over two brief messages sent from her Twitter account during last week’s deadly attack by right-wing extremists on the U.S. Capitol.
The tweets, which received fresh scrutiny after being widely recirculated by Boebert’s critics on Sunday, were sent in the minutes after a violent mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters breached the Capitol building on the afternoon of Jan. 6. As rioters, who killed one U.S. Capitol Police officer and injured many others, began rampaging through the building and vocally targeting elected officials, Boebert’s Twitter account relayed information concerning the whereabouts of members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“We were locked in the House Chambers,” Boebert tweeted at 2:17 p.m. One minute later, she added: “The Speaker has been removed from the chambers.”
The Speaker has been removed from the chambers.
— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) January 6, 2021
In the hours preceding Boebert’s tweets, right-wing extremists had descended on the Capitol following a nearby rally at which Trump and other GOP figures demanded that Congress refuse to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, citing a range of baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. As the demonstration turned violent and the mob gained entry into the Capitol building, shouts of “Where are they?” and “Hang Mike Pence!” could be heard, according to videos and eyewitness accounts.
With more details about the alleged intent of some of the rioters coming to light in the days following the attack, many critics are likening Boebert’s tweets to relaying “intel” to the pro-Trump mob. Even a fellow Republican House member, Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler of Washington, “called out” Boebert for her tweets during a caucus-wide call on Capitol security on Monday, Punchbowl News reported.
“Why was (Boebert) live tweeting the location of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the midst of the deadly coup attempt on the Capitol?” asked CNN commentator Keith Boykin. Rural Colorado United, a political action committee that opposed Boebert’s 2020 congressional candidacy, has accused her of “divulging” Pelosi’s location, characterizing her tweets before and during the Jan. 6 attack as a “timeline of treason.”
“I’d like to know who she was tweeting,” George Autobee, co-chair of Rural Colorado United, said in an interview. “If she was tweeting members of the coalition that overran the Capitol — to me, she’s aiding and abetting.”
In a statement sent to Newsline by a spokesperson, Boebert denied those accusations. She called the violence on Jan. 6 “indefensible” and said that those responsible “should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
“Some partisan officials and press have chosen to mischaracterize several of my tweets,” Boebert’s statement continued. “Let me be clear: I do not support unlawful acts of violence and support the rule of law. Furthermore, my tweets came after both events referenced occurred and I never disclosed secure locations.”
‘I am the militia’
Over the course of her whirlwind rise from Rifle restaurateur and gun-rights activist to member of Congress, Boebert has faced repeated questions about her ties to extremist movements, including militia groups and the QAnon conspiracy theory. Her rhetoric in the days and hours leading up to the Jan. 6 attack — most notably a tweet that morning reading simply, “Today is 1776” — echoed messages from far-right leaders now under investigation for their role in planning or inciting the riot.
Since announcing her congressional candidacy in December 2019, Boebert has appeared at multiple events alongside members of a nationwide militia movement known as Three Percenters, classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as anti-government extremists. Last year, a group calling itself the III% United Patriots of Colorado issued a call for members to attend a Boebert campaign rally in Pueblo, the Colorado Times Recorder reported. “Some of us have been asked to run a small perimeter security detail for her,” an unidentified militia member said in the message. “I wasn’t going to go unless they invited us, which they did.”
“I am the militia,” Boebert tweeted in June 2020, weeks before pulling off an upset primary victory over GOP incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton in Colorado’s 3rd congressional district.
Boebert has continued to earn her reputation as a right-wing firebrand since taking office on Jan. 3, releasing a widely shared video defending her decision to “carry my Glock to Congress” and becoming a high-profile proponent of Trump’s legally dubious, long-shot effort last week to block Congress from counting electoral votes affirming Biden’s victory.
“Madam Speaker, I have constituents outside this building right now,” Boebert said in an impassioned speech on the House floor shortly before the Jan. 6 attack, moving to object to counting electoral votes from Arizona. “I promised my voters to be their voice. … They know that this election is not right, and as their representative, I am sent here to represent them. I will not allow the people to be ignored.”
“First they voted to refuse to accept the (results), and then they pulled all these people in there to try to physically stop the count,” Autobee said. “And she’s in there tweeting while it’s all happening, (and) saying, ‘These are my people.’ I don’t know how much clearer it could be.”
The rhetoric used by Boebert and other Republicans preceding the attack on the Capitol has prompted widespread calls for resignations or possible expulsions from Congress. In a letter sent to House Democrats on Sunday, Pelosi asked members of her caucus for their input on invoking Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, a Civil War-era provision barring those who have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States from holding elected office.
Last week, more than 60 Colorado elected officials and community organizations called on Boebert and Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Springs Republican who also joined the effort to block the electoral-vote certification, to resign, and Boebert was the target of several “Stop the Sedition” rallies held in Colorado on Jan. 8. Organizers labeled her a “conspirator in the insurrection.”
Former State Rep. Bri Buentello told Newsline in an interview that Boebert should be held accountable for “just turning up the temperature over and over and over again with these allegations of voter fraud, and the fact is that it didn’t happen. And people died.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 7:40 a.m., Dec. 12, 2021, to correct the spelling of Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler’s name. The story previously had been updated to include a report that Rep. Jamie Herrera Butler criticized Boebert’s tweets during a Monday House GOP conference call and to include comments from Rural Colorado United co-chair George Autobee.
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