Politico’s morning email thingie has a first person account from one of their reporters who was on the scene and evacuated during the insurrection by Republicans:
HOW IT BEGAN: I was with my POLITICO colleagues inside House press gallery shortly before the joint session began at 1 p.m. Demonstrators had already encircled the Capitol outside, but if you had asked me whether the anger would escalate into the storming of one of the nation’s most iconic institutions, I would have brushed you off as hyperbolic. How wrong was I?
My belief that the Capitol building is safe is shattered. People broke into a highly protected building while the vice president of the United States was presiding over a joint session of Congress, full of hundreds of America’s elected officials.
ESCALATION: It didn’t become clear to me how serious the situation was until I saw this tweet: https://bit.ly/2XjAJ8e
Then the lockdown messages began pouring in. No one could enter or leave the Capitol complex. Authorities ushered the group of reporters I was with into the House gallery. They barricaded the doors behind us.
The enormity of the crisis sunk in when I saw HuffPost’s Igor Bobic tweet out a photo of rioters in the Senate. https://bit.ly/3hSMVGu
Fear came first, then the chaos ensued. Messages from the U.S. Capitol Police to ‘Stay calm’ were soon followed by police announcing they deployed tear gas in the Capitol Rotunda and members should find emergency escape hoods, which could be used essentially as gas masks, below their seats. That’s when the gravity of the situation seemed to fully click for lawmakers, who also realized what was unfolding as the crinkling sound of unwrapping our hoods filled the House chamber.
BLAME: Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) shouted at his GOP colleagues: “This is your fault.” Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), sitting in the House gallery, yelled at Republicans located below to ask their “friend” Trump to tell the rioters to stand down. As I recall, both were met with groans.
Then very quickly, members and staff, holding or wearing their escape hoods, were ushered from the House floor, followed by press and other lawmakers in the gallery. It was difficult to walk through the gallery because of the narrow path between the stationary chairs, not to mention the brass guardrails that section off various parts of the area. It was right as I reached the guardrail that the police shouted for everyone to take cover.
I still crossed the guardrail and after I found a suitable hiding spot, I realized the glass panels on a door to the House entryway had been shattered, and Capitol police were aiming their guns through the small holes at faceless intruders I could not see on the other side. I wondered, then, would I see someone die today?
THE EVACUATION: At some point, the evacuation resumed. And once out of the gallery, we were moved down various stairwells and hallways with a cloud of confusion over where we were going and where the intruders were at that very moment, while police officers stationed at various checkpoints told us to keep moving. It was here that the full impact of the day began to hit me. I felt my right leg shaking and I held onto the wall as we were evacuating to a safe room, while trying to ask members whether shots were fired. I was still on the job.
FINDING REFUGE: At various points I was able to link back up with my House colleagues, Melanie and Sarah, but as quickly as we were brought together, the chaos and the frenzy pulled us apart. I’d lost them by the time I reached the safe room that members and reporters were being escorted to — or so I thought. But then a guard at the door stopped reporters from entering: “No press.”
Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) stepped in to defend us and pressed the guard to let us in. But the guard didn’t budge. As we stood confused and trying to figure what to do next in an open hallway, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) offered us his office, where I went with five other reporters until we got the all clear hours later. We are all very grateful for your help, congressman.
The tumultuous pace of the day destroyed my sense of chronology. But even as my mind works to spit out various memories I’m sure it is trying hard to erase, I’m certain this is an episode that neither I nor our country will ever forget.
Now, for the details I didn’t see.
RIGHT BEHIND PENCE: After the rioters breached the Capitol, the vice president and top congressional leaders were whisked away to undisclosed locations as the intruders streamed through Statuary Hall and into the Senate.
“They broke windows and one man sat in the very seat Pence had been sitting in just a few minutes before, while another was in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office,” my colleagues report.
“We will not back down,” read a handwritten message that was left on the speaker’s desk.
CONFIRMED DEATH: “At one point, gunfire was heard inside the Capitol as Capitol police officers barricaded the doors to the House chamber, guns drawn and blocking rioters from entering. Police later confirmed one person was shot and killed, although the specific circumstances of that shooting have yet to be released,” my colleagues reported.
And one rioter, who was scaling scaffolding outside of Senate leadership offices, was injured after they fell more than 30 feet from the scaffolding.
More on the chaos from Sarah, me, Melanie, Burges and Marianne — all of whom were in the Capitol as these events unfolded. http://politi.co/3nq58w2