Representative Lauren Boebert, a Colorado Republican, stunned a group of Jewish visitors to the United States Capitol after she asked them if they were conducting "reconnaissance" after she ran into them while they waited for an elevator.
Members of the group, who were wearing yarmulkes, had come in to meet Representative Tom Suozzi. The group's organizer is an Orthodox Jew and sports a full beard.
A witness said Boebert stepped out of the elevator, looked at the visitors “from head to toe," and then asked if they had come to conduct "reconnaissance."
A rabbi who spoke to Buzzfeed News said the experience blindsided him:
“When I heard that, I actually turned to the person standing next to me and asked, ‘Did you just hear that?’ You know, I’m not sure to be offended or not. I was very confused.”
The incident also earned a rebuke from Suozzi, a Democrat who represents New York, who brought the group in to commemorate the 41st anniversary of the end of the Iran hostage crisis.
Regarding Boebert, Suozzi said members of Congress "can't be cavalier in the comments" they make, especially when they risk offending or discriminating against others:
"The bottom line is that everyone, especially members of Congress, have to be very, very thoughtful in the language they use. Because when you're a member of Congress, you have an important role to play in society."
"You can't be cavalier in the comments you make especially if they could be perceived as being antisemitic, or discriminatory."
Boebert, for her part, went on to defend her remarks, referencing comments from Democrats about tours she gave prior to the insurrection of January 6:
“I saw a large group and made a joke. Sadly when Democrats see the same they demonize my family for a year straight. I’m too short to see anyone’s yarmulkes."
That response did not go over well with Boebert's critics, who've accused her of anti-Semitic bigotry in the wake of the Colleyville synagogue hostage crisis, when a British Pakistani armed with a pistol took four people hostage during a Sabbath service.
Allegations that Boebert gave a "large tour" prior to the insurrection surfaced after the attack, coming shortly after authorities announced they would investigate whether lawmakers gave rioters a tour of the Capitol building ahead of time, compromising security.
In the week after the attack, Representative Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat, said he saw Boebert "taking a group of people for a tour sometime after the 3rd [of January] and before the 6th [the day of the attack]." He said he did not know whether any of the individuals who were with Boebert that day later participated in the attack.
The extent of Boebert's alleged involvement in the insurrection, which took place when a mob of former President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the United States Capitol on the false premise the 2020 election had been stolen,
In October 2021, Rolling Stone published an article stating several supporters of former President Trump who helped plan the insurrection had multiple planning sessions with senior White House staffers and Republican members of Congress.
Sources who spoke to the magazine said they met with several high-profile Trump acolytes, including Representatives Paul Gosar (Arizona), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Georgia), Madison Cawthorn (North Carolina) and Boebert herself.
Organizers claim Gosar promised "blanket pardons" to anyone who participated in the attack, adding they "would talk to Boebert's team, Cawthorn's team, Gosar's team like back to back to back to back."