Three years after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, new footage obtained by Punchbowl News shows just how close rioters came that day to encountering a group of House Democrats on the third floor of the U.S. Capitol.
One of those Democrats, Rep. Annie Kuster (N.H.), told us the tape is relevant in 2024 because “people need to understand the threat that Donald Trump poses to our democracy going forward.”
It’s the latest example of how Democrats nationwide intend to make former President Donald Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6 a key campaign issue this cycle. Later today, President Joe Biden will deliver a speech warning of Trump’s extremism in Valley Forge, Pa., on the third anniversary of the Capitol attack.
In the security video, a group of House Democrats wearing safety hoods frantically rush out of the House gallery, ushered to safety by a U.S. Capitol Police officer. Thirty seconds later, three rioters enter the same hallway.
“I’ve often wondered, ‘What the hell would have happened?’ I don’t know, rip us limb from limb?” Kuster said. “You know, what are the zip ties and the bear mace all about? They were prepared to take members of Congress either hostage, or kill us right then and there, or at least make us go to the hospital so that we couldn’t have come back to vote that night.”
Kuster’s office has had access to the video for over a year but decided to sit on it due to the jurisdiction of the Jan. 6 select committee and for security reasons. But after Speaker Mike Johnson released all of the J6 footage, Kuster thought it was time the close encounter was seen.
Republicans have largely downplayed the violence of Jan. 6, its aftermath and the possibility it could happen again. A violent mob, egged on by Trump, brutally attacked law enforcement officers at the Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of Biden as president. Five police officers at the Capitol on Jan. 6 later died. Several rioters — including Ashli Babbitt, shot by a USCP officer — also died.
But there’s almost no discussion of the attack nowadays among congressional Republicans, other than the bizarre conspiracy theory that the assault was somehow perpetrated by the FBI or government officials. Or Republicans defending Trump, who faces federal and state charges related to Jan. 6 and alleged attempts to subvert the election.
Kuster said that running against Trump’s extremism is a winning message in her home state of New Hampshire, “on both sides of the aisle.” Kuster credited the strength of both former Gov. Nikki Haley and former Gov. Chris Christie in the early voting state over Trump on the GOP side.
“People are very focused on not allowing Donald Trump to be president of the United States ever again,” Kuster said. “They do not trust him to be acting in the best interest of our democracy.”
— Max Cohen