In the chaotic aftermath of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, many members of Congress are struggling to come to terms with the events they experienced on that day. In a live video originally posted on Jan. 12, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that, as pro-Trump insurrectionists pushed past barricades and shattered entryways to storm the Capitol building, she feared she wouldn't make it to the end of the day alive. AOC's Instagram video about the Capitol riot and her trauma is deeply emotional, and reveals how the violent scene was actually much more dangerous than it initially appeared.
"Many members of Congress were almost murdered," Ocasio-Cortez stated, describing the scene she faced that Wednesday afternoon. "I can tell you that I had a very close encounter where I thought I was going to die," she continued. She said she couldn't divulge the full details of the situation due to security concerns. “I did not know if I was going to make it to the end of that day alive.” As one of the most recognizable young progressive Democrats in Congress, Ocasio-Cortez has been a lightning rod for right-wing attacks, along with the rest of the progressive "Squad," which includes Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley.
Terrifying footage from Jan. 6 shows a mob of pro-Trump rioters infiltrating offices and Congressional chambers where U.S. lawmakers were confirming the election of President-elect Joe Biden. Legislators and those inside the Capitol were reportedly instructed to wear gas masks and shelter in place until authorities could confirm a safe extraction point, per multiple accounts. "It is not an exaggeration to say that many members of the House were nearly assassinated," Ocasio-Cortez continued. "Many of us narrowly escaped death."
The mob, many of whom were bearing white supremacist symbols, flooded the Capitol building after President Donald Trump delivered an incendiary speech that morning at his "Save America" rally. There, he once again made unsubstantiated claims about election fraud and encouraged his supporters to "stop the steal" by taking action. "You’ll never take back our country with weakness," Trump told the inflamed crowd. "You have to show strength, and you have to be strong." Lawmakers on both sides of the Congressional aisle have labeled the Capitol attacks as a failed coup attempt, incited by President Trump himself. The White House did not previously respond to a request for comment on Trump's role in instigating the riot.
During her live Instagram video, Ocasio-Cortez also stated "there was a sense that something was wrong from the inside," and explained how she didn't feel safe around some members of Congress. "There were QAnon and white supremacist sympathizers and, frankly, white supremacist members of Congress in that extraction point who I know and who I have felt would disclose my location and would create opportunities to allow me to be hurt, kidnapped, et cetera," she stated. She then called for the resignation of members of Congress who have openly supported Trump's agenda to overturn the election based on false claims of election fraud, including Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz. Hawley and Cruz have both defended their choice to challenge the election results.
In a Jan. 12 tweet, Pressley also discussed her reservations about sheltering with GOP members. "The second I realized our ‘safe room’ from the violent white supremacist mob included treasonous, white supremacist, anti masker members of Congress who incited the mob in the first place, I exited," she wrote. In a Jan. 12 report from The Boston Globe, Pressley's chief of staff, Sarah Groh, stated that when she hid from the rioting mob, "every panic button in my office had been torn out." In a Jan. 13 tweet, Ocasio-Cortez suggested this was more than just an innocent oversight writing, "how does the department responsible remove all the panic buttons from a highly visible member’s office and not inform that member or their staff?" Elite Daily reached out to Capitol Police and the House sergeant-at-arms for comment, but did not immediately hear back.
On Jan. 13, the House of Representatives officially impeached Trump for a second time based on his actions ahead of the riot, making him the first president in United States history to receive the rebuke twice. While some Republican lawmakers, including Trump himself, have claimed a second impeachment would only serve to divide the country further, Ocasio-Cortez has made her stance clear: "Every minute and every hour that [Trump] is in office represents a clear and present danger — not just to the United States Congress, but frankly to the country," she stated in a Jan. 10 interview with ABC. "If we allow insurrection against the United States with impunity, with no accountability, we are inviting it to happen again."