Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), who has a history of propping up conspiracy theories and instigating religious attacks, asked a group of Jewish people touring the U.S. Capitol on Thursday if they were there to do “reconnaissance,” BuzzFeed News reported.
According to those present for the conversation, Boebert crossed paths with the group, some of whom were wearing yarmulkes and had traditional Orthodox beards, outside an elevator and looked at them “from head to toe” before making the remark.
A rabbi in the group, which was there for a meeting with Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-N.Y.), told BuzzFeed News that he was “very confused” and “not sure to be offended or not” about the question.
“When I heard that, I actually turned to the person standing next to me and asked, ‘Did you just hear that?’” he said, noting Jewish people have been “very sensitive” to possible anti-Semitism, especially on the heels of a hostage situation at a synagogue in Texas last weekend.
Reconnaissance typically refers to military forces scouting an area in order to obtain information about enemy forces.
Boebert told BuzzFeed that she simply “saw a large group and made a joke” related to the controversy over a late-night tour of the Capitol she led before the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the building. Angry at media coverage of reports about a group tour, Boebert said at the time that “no reconnaissance tour occurred.”
As for her remark on Thursday, Boebert told BuzzFeed News that some people there “got it” and knew it was a joke.
“I’m too short to see anyone’s yarmulkes,” she added.
She didn’t immediately respond to HuffPost’s requests that she elaborate on the “reconnaissance” remark.
Suozzi told BuzzFeed News following the incident that lawmakers have a responsibility to be careful with the words they use.
“The bottom line is that everyone, especially members of Congress, have to be very, very thoughtful in the language they use,” he said. “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 not shied away from religious insults in the past and has repeatedly called Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who is Muslim, a member of the “jihad squad,” likening her to an Islamic terrorist.
She has also promoted conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election and the QAnon movement, insisting that many Democrats would soon be arrested for widespread corruption.