Inside the Capitol attack: ‘Drag them out!’


Trump supporters broke through a police barrier outside the Capitol on Jan. 6.John Minchillo/Associated Press


It’s hard to think of another crime that the perpetrators documented so thoroughly and publicly.


The people who participated in the Capitol attack on Jan. 6 posted thousands of videos of it to Parler, a social network. Journalists and other witnesses have released dozens of their own videos, too. Over the past several days, news organizations have been studying these videos and have begun releasing more details about what happened.


This reconstruction work is important, because the attack was a signature moment in U.S. history: A mob, incited by the president of the United States, stormed the halls of Congress in an effort to prevent it from certifying the president’s electoral defeat. During the attack, the mob killed a police officer and went looking for members of Congress.


Below, my colleagues and I have summarized the key points from the latest news accounts, and we’ve provided links for people who want to go deeper:


The mob came very close to lawmakers. At several points, rioters were within feet of members of Congress, separated by only a small group of police officers, a multimedia article in The Washington Post shows. Some rioters passed within 100 feet of Vice President Mike Pence, who was hiding with his family in an office near the Senate chamber.


Many of the attackers openly discussed committing violence, and lawmakers feared for their lives.

“Drag them out!”

one man yelled inside the Capitol, referring to lawmakers;

“Hang Mike Pence!”

another group chanted


As the mob closed in, members of Congress hiding inside the House chamber called loved ones and told one another to remove their lapel pins so rioters could not identify them.

Protesters confronted Capitol Police officers outside the Senate chamber.Erin Schaff/The New York Times


Rioters abused the police. One man, carrying an American flag, profanely yelled at a line of Washington police officers that his 5-year-old son was more of a man than they were. Others beat, knocked over and pushed past officers, and threatened to kill one with his own gun.


Police officers inside the Capitol were often outnumbered and chose not to use force. In the Post video, Officer Eugene Goodman, facing down a large group by himself, lured the mob to chase after him — away from the Senate chamber.


Later, after senators had evacuated, a lone officer politely pleaded with rioters to leave the chamber.


“Any chance I could get you guys to leave the Senate wing? Just want to let you guys know this is, like, the sacredest place.”

the officer asks in video captured by The New Yorker’s Luke Mogelson.


Only after the arrival of more backup, some from the D.C. National Guard, did officers end the riot.

Members of the mob on the Senate floor.Win Mcnamee/Getty Images


Some rioters may have been collecting information. The New Yorker video shows a group of men rifling through Senate desks and snapping photos. One says he is looking for something to “use against these scumbags.”


The F.B.I. is also investigating whether a Pennsylvania woman stole computer equipment from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and intended to sell it to Russian agents. The woman turned herself in to the police yesterday.


The mob felt empowered by Republican leaders.

“We are listening to your boss: Trump.”

As rioters pushed their way down a hallway, one shouted at a police officer.

“I think Cruz would want us to do this, so I think we’re good.”

And as a few men looked through documents on the Senate floor, one, referring to Senator Ted Cruz, said


Multiple military members, active and retired, were part of the mob. The F.B.I. is investigating the role of the Oath Keepers, an anti-government militia made up largely of former law enforcement and military veterans. (In response, the Pentagon says it will intensify internal efforts to combat far-right extremism.)


Another rioter was Klete Keller, a gold-medal-winning swimmer. One of Keller’s former Olympic teammates described him as an “aimless, rudderless, 30-something man who … became a perfect candidate to fall into a radical, conservative rabbit hole of conspiracy theorists and rioters involved in insurrection,” according to The Post. Since the riot, Keller told a former coach that he “didn’t mean for any of this to happen,” The Times reported.


So far, at least 70 people have been arrested and charged with participating in the attack. The authorities say they are still seeking information, as this F.B.I. poster with suspects’ photos shows.


For more:

  • The Times put together maps, images and videos from the day to show how President Trump’s rally gave way to violence.

  • ProPublica collected more than 500 videos, offering a view of what the attack looked like from inside the mob.

Protesters recorded one another in the Capitol. Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images




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