Republican Rep. Andrew Clyde, who lives in Jackson County and represents Georgia's 9th Congressional District, created a firestorm of controversy last week when he downplayed the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, saying that some of those involved looked on video footage like "tourists." He claimed the events of Jan. 6 were not an insurrection, saying that label was "a bald-face lie."
"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 said.
Clyde's comments were quickly met with a backlash from many who pointed out that the Jan. 6 mob had entered the U.S. Capitol Building violently. Five people died from the events of the day.
Poltifact, a political fact-checking service use by many news organizations, called Clyde's comments "a ridiculous assertion."
The Jan. 6 insurrection happened as Congress certified the votes of the Electoral College for president, votes which gave Democrat Joe Biden the victory over incumbent Donald Trump. Trump said repeatedly following the Nov. election that it had been stolen from him. Some involved in the insurrection attempt said they were acting on behalf of Trump, believing the election had indeed been stolen from him.
Over 400 people have been charged in the riot, many for misdemeanor violations for unlawfully entering the Capitol building. One local man with ties to Jackson and Banks counties was among those charged.
Some protestors vandalized the building, stole property and attacked Capitol police officers who were unable to stop the crowd. While some in the crowd were peaceful, others carried bear spray, zip ties and other instruments meant to do damage.
Clyde himself helped barricade the doors to the U.S. House chamber during the Jan. 6 insurrection. The House floor wasn't breached, but the U.S. Senate chamber was.
Most of those who rioted at the Capitol that day were Trump supporters who were upset with the outcome of the election. Trump had earlier encouraged people to protest in Washington on Jan. 6, a move that was seen by some as encouraging an effort to forcefully overturn the election results.
Clyde, a Trump supporter who was elected in November to his first term in office, had earlier this year made waves in Congress for refusing to go through a metal detector to reach the House floor, a rule put in place after the riots.