Rep. Lauren Boebert left a group of Jewish visitors to the Capitol bewildered Thursday morning when she asked them if they were doing "reconnaissance" after seeing them at an elevator at the Capitol.
Members of the group, which was meeting with Rep. Tom Suozzi, were wearing yarmulkes, and the person coordinating the group is Orthodox, with a traditional beard.
One witness said the group, along with other members of Congress, was waiting for an elevator. When the doors opened, Boebert stepped out of the elevator and looked the group of visitors “from head to toe,” the witness said. Boebert then asked if they were there to conduct “reconnaissance.”
“When I heard that, I actually turned to the person standing next to me and asked, ‘Did you just hear that?’” a rabbi who was with the group told BuzzFeed News.
“You know, I’m not sure to be offended or not,” the rabbi said. “I was very confused.” The rabbi added that “people are very sensitive” now, especially after what happened in Texas this past weekend, when an armed man held four people hostage at a synagogue.
Boebert told BuzzFeed News that she was referencing the many comments that have been directed at her from Democrats about Capitol tours prior to the Jan. 6 attack, adding that some people present “got it.”
“I saw a large group and made a joke. Sadly when Democrats see the same they demonize my family for a year straight,” she said in a text.
“I’m too short to see anyone’s yarmulkes,” she added.
Suozzi brought the group to the US Capitol to commemorate the 41st anniversary of the end of the Iran hostage crisis. Members of the group have been backing Suozzi’s efforts to recognize the hostages with a Congressional Gold Medal.
"The bottom line is that everyone, especially members of Congress, have to be very, very thoughtful in the language they use,” Suozzi said in a statement about the incident. “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 has repeatedly come under criticism from Democrats and others for her comments in the year she’s been in office. In November, anti-Muslim remarks she directed at Rep. Ilhan Omar led to a flurry of debate among House Democrats over whether or not to formally reprimand her.
She has, at the same time, grown in influence in the right wing of her party. Boebert was tapped as the communications chair of the House Freedom Caucus. In her announcement, she said she’ll “work diligently to make sure the caucus’s message, and the powerful messages of each member, are delivered to the American people.”