“It is awful”. This is how the leaders of Congress experienced the assault on the Capitol from within | International

The last session of the investigation commission on January 6 left as the main news the summons to former President Donald Trump to be questioned in relation to the assault on the Capitol. The most spectacular part, however, was the screening of previously unreleased videos of how congressional leaders experienced the insurrection from within. “It’s just horrible,” Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives and the main protagonist of the recordings, is heard saying in the videos.

There are several hours of tension concentrated in a few minutes. The images have been repeated over and over again by US television since their projection in the room where the commission holds its sessions. With careful execution, images of the assault are combined with videos of conversations between Pelosi and other leaders.

The summary begins at 2:23 p.m. local time, when outside the police are unable to contain the mob. Radio communications are heard: “A door has been forced and people are entering the Capitol.” At that same time, Nancy Pelosi is seen going down to the basement of the building, a labyrinth of rooms where senators and representatives could find safety, and talk on the phone: “We have to finish the procedure [de certificación de la elección de Joe Biden como presidente] or if not, they will have achieved a complete victory”, he tells his interlocutor as he walks through the corridors.

At 2:42 p.m., Pelosi is seen sitting in an auditorium. “The senator [Chuck] Schummer [líder de los demócratas en el Senado] it is in a safe place and they have closed the Senate, ”says Pelosi. Then, standing up, she is seen saying: “There has to be some way to maintain the feeling that people have that there is some security or some confidence that the Government can work and that we can elect the president of the United States. Shall we go back to the session?

Someone out of focus replies: “We are back in session, but now apparently everyone in the hemicycle is putting on masks to prepare. I am trying to get more information.”

“They’re getting…” Pelosi says.

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— The tear gas masks, answers his interlocutor.

-Can you believe it? Can you believe it? Pelosi asks others present.

-I do not can.

The mob is already inside the Capitol. At 3:00 p.m., Schummer and Pelosi appear sitting in another room: “I’m going to call the damn secretary of the Department of Defense,” says Schummer. The two are then seen standing talking to Christopher Miller, Acting Secretary of Defense, on speakerphone: “We have some senators who are still in hiding. They need staff in large numbers now. Can you get the Maryland National Guard to come over?” says the senator. “I have something to tell you, Mr. Secretary,” adds Pelosi. “I’m going to call the mayor of Washington right now. And see what other resources she has, other police departments.”

As the violence continues outside and inside the Capitol, the next call is to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam: “Hello Governor, this is Nancy. I don’t know if she’s been approached about the Virginia National Guard (…) I still think she probably needs the go-ahead from the federal government to go into another jurisdiction…”. At that moment they see images of the assault on a screen in the room: “Oh, my God, they are breaking the windows, they told me that someone has been shot. It’s just awful. And all at the instigation of the President of the United States. Well, thank you, governor. I appreciate what he is doing. If you don’t mind, I’d like to get in touch. Thank you”.

When Pelosi hangs up, Schummer tells her, “The Virginia Guards have been called.” Pelosi replies: “Yes, I was just talking to Governor Northam. What he has told me is that they have sent 200 state police officers and a National Guard unit.”

The next call is to Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen at 3:25 p.m.: “They’re breaking windows and breaking in. Obviously looting our offices and everything else. That’s nothing. The concern we have about personal safety transcends everything, but the fact is that on any given day they are breaking the law in many different ways. And frankly, a lot of it at the instigation of the president of the United States and now, if I could just have somebody…” Pelosi says. And Schummer: Why don’t you tell the president to tell them to leave the Capitol, Mr. Attorney General, and in your law enforcement responsibility make a public statement that they all must leave.”

At that point, Republican leaders Mitch McDonnell, Steny Hoyer and Steve Scalise join Pelosi and Schummer in calling for help. It’s 3:46 p.m.: “This can’t be just to wait for this or that. We need them there. Now. Whoever you have,” says Schummer. “You also have troops, Fort McNair, Andrews Air Force Base, other military bases,” adds Hoyer. “When can you have the place evacuated, cleared?” Schummer insists to an unidentified interlocutor who appears to be a police officer, who replies: “I do not want to speak on behalf of whoever is leading, who is going to be responsible for executing the operations on the ground there for a moment.” “Just imagine for a moment that it was the White House or the Pentagon or some other entity that was under siege,” Pelosi tells him.

“Defecations and all sorts of things”

The next interlocutor, at 4:22 p.m., is Vice President Mike Pence, in favor of certifying Biden’s victory to Trump’s anger. It’s Pelosi speaking again: “I’m trying to figure out how to get this job done today. We talked about it with Mitch [McConnel] before. He’s not in the room right now, but he was with us earlier and he said ‘yeah, we want to get this resolved.’ Hopefully we can narrow it down to one complaint, Arizona. And then we could vote and just go ahead with the rest of the states. The overriding desire is to do it on Capitol Hill. What they have told us very directly is that it will take days for the Capitol to be well again, they have given us really bad information about the condition of the Chamber. There are defecations and all that kind of stuff. I don’t think that’s hard to clean, but I do think it’s more important from a security standpoint to make sure everyone is out of the building. How long does that take?” he tells Pence.

He then discusses the call with the other leaders and says that they are in favor of going back to the floor and having Biden’s victory certified there. “It’s going to take time to clean up the poop you’re making everywhere, literally and figuratively, on Capitol Hill,” he tells them.

There’s a new call with Pence at 5:59 p.m. on speakerphone and the vice president says, “I’m on Capitol Hill, I’m literally right next to the chief of the Capitol Police. He has informed me of what you will hear through official channels. Paul Irving, the sergeant at arms, will inform you that his best information is that they believe the House and Senate will be able to reconvene in about an hour. The sergeant will inform you of the process to return. “Good news,” exclaims Schummer. “Thank you very much, Mr. Vice President, good news,” adds Pelosi.

The video projected in the investigation commission ends with the image of the congressmen returning to the hemicycle at 7:13 p.m. Almost five hours have passed. The summary in images of how the leaders of Congress experienced it from the inside lasts just over seven minutes.

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