Calls For Release Of Video In Page Incident With Rep. Van Orden

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A House Democrat has asked for the release of any video captured by security cameras of the incident last week in which Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-Wis.) allegedly shouted and cursed at a group of Senate pages taking pictures inside the U.S. Capitol’s dome.

Rep. Mark Pocan, himself a fellow Badger State lawmaker, sent a letter to the chairman of the House Administration Committee Tuesday requesting the release of any video, saying it was crucial to determining if the allegations are true.

“This is a deeply disturbing account of the incident, and if these allegations are accurate, would indicate that Representative Van Orden engaged in potentially abusive behavior, including verbal harassment and physical intimidation, against a group of minors on Capitol grounds,” Pocan wrote.

In his statements about the incident, which happened in the early morning just after midnight on Thursday, Van Orden has not denied the pages’ account but simply said he was trying to preserve the dignity of one of the Capitol’s most awe-inspiring and popular places, the interior rotunda of the dome.

According to reports, several pages were lying on the rotunda floor, looking up and trying to take pictures of the rotunda, which includes on its ceiling the fresco “The Apotheosis of Washington,” when Van Orden encountered them. The rotunda space, famous for being where statesmen and politicians are sometimes honored by lying in state, is full of tourists during the day, making quiet time in it a treasured commodity.

Van Orden allegedly yelled at the pages, high school age students who work for the Senate for a few weeks doing things like fetching papers, getting coffee and holding the chamber’s doors open, to get up and get out the rotunda.

“Wake the f‑‑‑ up you little s‑‑‑‑. … What the f‑‑‑ are you all doing? Get the f‑‑‑ out of here. You are defiling the space you [pieces of s‑‑‑],” Van Orden said, according to an account from The Hill.

Told they were pages, Van Orden allegedly said he did not care and told them to leave.

“I have long said our nation’s Capitol is a symbol of the sacrifice our servicemen and women have made for this country and should never be treated like a frat house common room,” Van Orden said after the incident.

In his letter, Pocan said the allegations, if true, are “completely unacceptable and further calls into question his fitness for office.”

“It is critical that members of the public, including his constituents in Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District, know the truth of what happened that evening,” Pocan wrote.

Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-Wis.) is seen in the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall in November 2022.
Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-Wis.) is seen in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall in November 2022.

Tom Williams via Getty Images

Lawmakers from both parties have stood up for the pages and some have said Van Orden should apologize to the group. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told CNN he would talk to Van Orden and said the incident did not sound in character for him.

But a review of Van Orden’s social media shows he’s been willing to mix it up at times, at least online. In response to a reporter’s post on X, the platform previously named Twitter, Van Orden said the reporter must not be familiar with Wisconsin and “must be a flat-lander.”

And on his personal Facebook page, where he has about 18,000 followers, Van Orden occasionally engages in some chippiness. In response to a comment about his post on NATO and Ukraine earlier in July, Van Orden wrote, “Maybe you should check my record, hero.”

Asked by another commenter why his post had allegedly been removed, Van Orden replied, “Was it dumb?”

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