Jan 16, 2021

Post Reports: Four Hours of Insurrection

We’re all still processing what happened on January 6th. Despite the hours and hours of video circulating online, we still didn’t feel like we had a visceral, on-the-ground sense of what happened that day. Until we heard the piece we’re featuring today. The Washington Post’s daily podcast Post Reports built a minute-by-minute replay of that day, from the rally, to the invasion, to the aftermath, told through the voices of people who were in the building that day -- reporters, photojournalists, Congresspeople, police officers and more. It’s some of the most visceral reporting we’ve heard anywhere on this historic moment. Listen to their full episode here.

 

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Jad Abumrad: Okay, just a warning, this episode contains strong language and sounds and descriptions of violence. This is Radiolab, I'm Jad Abumrad. A quick dispatch, if you can call it that, on this Saturday. Like so many of us, we at the show are cautiously watching the news this weekend while still trying to process what happened on January 6th. Even nine days later, I find myself looking at all of these video fragments and these pictures, clicking through them, and just not able to put it all together like what exactly happened? Why weren't more people expecting this? What was going on behind the scenes? Why weren't there more police there? All of these questions, I've been really wanting someone to just lay it all out beat by beat.

Martine Powers: Hello.

Jad: That has happened. I want to bring in Martine Powers from The Washington Post. Martine, thank you for coming on.

Martine: Thank you for having me.

Jad: She and her team at Post Reports have been one of my personal go-tos this past year. They just released an episode last night that I want you to hear. For people who don't know who you are and what Post Reports is, can you just tell me a little bit about you and the show?

Martine: Post Reports, we are the daily news podcast at The Washington Post, and I think what's really valuable about being in a place like the newsroom of the post is this access to all these reporters who live and breathe the beats that they cover. Congress, the Secret Service, the military, and police, those are people who really know their stuff. I think for us, after the Capitol invasion, we also had these questions. We on our team were seeing these videos of what was happening, but it really felt like snapshots. It was hard to understand what were police trying to do, and why was this escalating so quickly? It seems like everyone was really unprepared, and so we started asking those questions to the reporters in our newsroom trying to figure out what actually was going on.

Jad: You guys, what you ended up doing is creating almost like a minute-by-minute sportscast, so to speak, but you basically marched through the whole thing. I wanted to play a couple of excerpts from that piece you put up last night. You start with the, I guess, noon, January 6th, the president's speech near the white house. You then follow the crowd as they walk from the White House to the Capitol. At first, it's kind of a jolly country music sort of vibe in the crowd, but then it starts to gradually get darker and more military march-like, and then you pivot to the, this is the part I found really startling, you pivot to the police who were watching the crowd approach. I guess maybe we'll just pick up with you speaking to one of the reporters at The Post and asking a question that I think we've all been wondering

Martine: Why weren't there more police stopping rioters from getting to the door of the Capitol?

Carol Leonnig: Capitol police had not believed that this protest was going to turn into a siege on the Capitol.

[music]

Martine: That is Carol Leonnig, a national investigative reporter for The Post.

Carol: They had been watching the intel gathering from the FBI, from the DC Metropolitan Police. They'd been conferring with their partners, other federal agencies and there was no indication to them that this was going to be an aggressive war-like riot. However, what they didn't know is that the FBI a day earlier in their Norfolk office had gotten a warning about exactly this, a plan to battle and seize the Capitol

Martine: At the same time, officials in DC were starting to get concerned. The mayor's office, the city police department, police reporter, Peter Herman had been hearing for days that they were worried about the possibility for big crowds and for violence.

Peter Herman: Law enforcement agencies were also monitoring all the transportation in terms of bus tickets. They noticed an increase in Amtrak tickets into DC and a big increase in hotel reservations, which all led them to believe in the weeks leading up to this that this was becoming much bigger than anyone had expected.

Martine: Those concerns got communicated to Steven Sund, the chief of the Capitol Police. This is the police department that is in charge specifically of the Capitol building and its other office buildings. Carol Leonnig interviewed him about the right.

Carol: On Monday, Chief Sund at the Capitol Police is starting to become concerned after talking to some of his partners just about the size of the protest. There had been a Make America Great Again protest. In police language, they call it MAGA 1, MAGA 2, and this one was MAGA 3. There had been protests before, but this one on January 6th, he was starting to see signs that the group was going to be much larger than what they had seen in the past, and so on Monday, he talks with his two supervisors, the sergeants at arms for the Senate and the House, Paul Irving and Mike Stanger, and he asks them if he can activate the National Guard, put them on emergency standby just so that they can be sure that they are at the ready in case there is something that develops.

His two bosses, who are security professionals, former very high ranking officials at the Secret Service, by the way, they are operating in a political world, their bosses are the Speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader, and they are not thrilled about this idea of activating the National Guard and they suggest that he not do that.

Steven Sund: There was concern from his bosses about the optics of soldiers standing on the Capitol grounds or with the Capitol in the backdrop and what that would look like, almost like the soldiers or the army was taking over for the seat of power, but even more behind that, they were pointing to criticism they got back in June when they flooded DC streets with federal officers and National Guardsmen from various states. They were saying, "Basically, we did this in June, and the mayor and everyone else complains, and with all sorts of problems, looked like a military takeover of the district, and so we're trying to avoid that, so we want to basically have a light footprint this time around."

[crowd chanting]

Martine: By 1:50 PM on Wednesday, it started to become clear that a light footprint had been the wrong choice.

Speaker: Then there was a stream of protesters just running into the doors of the Capitol.

[background noise]

Martine: In the videos of this, you see people using riot shields to push back officers, you see people picking up metal bike racks to basically use as battering rams. More doors, more windows are broken open.

Speaker: Then that sends a massively powerful symbol to the thousands of people behind them who may not have thought they were going to storm the Capitol, but I was so swept up in the excitement of this happening that they join in. We've seen those images from inside the capitol of elderly men and women who are not armed, they're in T-shirts and sweaters. They do not look like they were there to terrorize members of Congress, but they ended up having that effect.

Andrew Lee Jock: Andrew Lee Jock to Capitol command. Just advising you that the entity has declared there's a breach at the Capitol as well as a riot at the Capitol. Also, they're requesting possible help.

[music]

Martine: At this point, Sund, the chief of Capitol Police is watching all of this unfold from a command center two blocks away from the Capitol.

Carol: He's there watching by video feed and getting radio transmission from his incident commanders on the scene, and as he sees this, he realizes, "We aren't going to win this one. We aren't going to be able to hold this line." They had created this huge perimeter far, far out onto first street and he knows it's not going to work.

Martine: So Sund calls the acting chief of the DC Police Department, Robert Contee and he says, "We need help now."

Carol: I'm paraphrasing here, but essentially says, "Anything I got, I'll send it your way. I can send you a hundred right now and more will come."

[crowd chanting]

Ramey Kyle: I came down to assess the situation and see if we're going to make an arrest, and I couldn't believe my eyes what was going on.

[background noise]

All our officers and Capitol police officers had formed a line. There was a bicycle rack all the people in the crowd were pushed up against.

[background noise]

It was literally a warzone.

Martine: That's DC police commander Ramey Kyle. You'll also hear Officer Daniel Hodges and Officer Mike Fanone. They were all on the west side of the Capitol, the part facing the National Mall where the inauguration is held.

Speaker: We had officers engaged in hand to hand combat across the fence line. People were throwing water bottles, pieces of metal that they had, I guess, broken off from somewhere with the inaugural stage construction site. I started noticing that the members in the crowd are actually stealing our bike racks. I was fairly certain that we were going to be overrun, it was only a matter of time.

Protester: Hell yes, what the [bleep]. They broke through, it's on.

Speaker: We literally fought all the way back to those stairwells. We hit the stairwells, officers go back up, and we get up here to the top. I'm being told this called the West Terrace Door. All the officers that were there, they refer to it now is the tunnel of death.

Martine: This tunnel is really a hallway that leads inside the Capitol.

Speaker: We went inside, we closed the doors, locked them. I believed, at the time, that we were the only door that was in jeopardy of being breached. I had no idea that there was these other doors. I really thought that it was upon us and those officers in a hallway that we were the last line of defense for the Capitol.

[background noise]

I don't know if it was just me being naive, but I always thought that these doors and these windows and stuff were bombproof, bulletproof. However, it seemed like within 45 seconds to a minute, the individuals outside were able to break those doors.

[background noise]

We basically lined up officers shoulder to shoulder in that narrow tunnel, four to six rows deep. No matter what, we were going to be the cork in this hole that kept them from entering.

Speaker: We did another stand there. At that point, I had gone inside and put on my gas mask. CS gas and OC spray, pepper spray was slime at that point.

Speaker: They're throwing things at us, they're shooting bear mace. Of course, being in that tunnel, if they shoot bear mace, everybody's getting it. It basically coated the entire vestibule. We couldn't see anything, totally pitch black.

Speaker: I walk in there and I looked at my partner, Jimmy Albright, who came with me and I was like, "Man, what the [beep] did we get into." The only thing that I could really see was the backs of 20 officers, maybe 30 officers that looked like they were involved in some kind of medieval-style combat. Body against body just crushing like a barbaric scene.

[crowd chanting]

Speaker: As officers fell back, I would work my way to the front. Eventually, I got to the very front there where you saw me in the corner next to the door, and I just tried to hold them back as best I could. Eventually, just the sheer numbers and all of them pushing in unison, they wedged through the door.

[background noise]

My arms were pinned and I couldn't really defend myself at that point, so the guy in front of me took that opportunity to rip my mask off, rip my baton away from me, started beating me in the head with it.

[background noise]

I didn't want to be the one guy to start shooting because I knew that they had guns. We have been seizing guns all day, all yesterday. The only reason I could think of that they weren't shooting us is that they were waiting for us to shoot first. If it became a firefight between a couple of hundred officers and a couple thousand insurrectionists, then we surely would have lost.

[background noise]

Jad: Wow, even though I know everything that I just heard, I know it differently now, do you know what I mean?

Martine: Yes.

Jad: Hearing it in that way? Before we go to the next exert, I wonder if I could ask you a question. This is an adjacent thing I've been wondering about, as I look at all the video clips from inside the Capitol, I do find myself wondering, who are the Capitol Police? Are they part of the DC Police force? Are they a separate unit?

Martine: Yes, that's a really good question. It's actually a very complicated and a very DC system. There are actually more than 30 police departments just in the district.

Jad: Wow.

Martine: Because there's police for the Capitol building and it's corresponding office buildings, and then there's also the DC Police Department for the rest of the city where people live, and then White House and all these other buildings, they all have their own police. There's actually police for the zoo, believe it or not, but I think that is one of the things that actually led to some confusion and some chaos because one of the things that we heard from these police officers, and to be clear, the voices you heard, those are all DC cops. They don't work for Capitol Police and they're just coming in to try to help reinforce.

One of them was saying he'd never been to the Capitol before. He'd been outside, but he'd never been inside and that he didn't have a sense of where other rioters were coming from, whether this was going to be the only door that they needed to keep closed or where other people might be. You just get the sense that there was a lot of confusion and trying to figure out what is the best way to strategize to keep these crowds under control because in any scenario, all of these police, even with the DC cops who came along, they're still so vastly outnumbered. You see how the logistical steps started to unravel.

Jad: Yes.

Martine: Even though I think a lot of officers were really doing their best in the moment.

Jad: Okay, so in your story after the crowd bursts in and we hear that very visceral tape with the confrontation with the police, you then pivot and back up the story from the perspective of people inside the building. Maybe we'll pick it up there.

Bill O'Leary: The day started with my biggest concern being whether the snack bars would be open into the wee hours of the morning because with all of the objections planned, the joint session of Congress was expected to go until the middle of the night.

Martine: That's Bill O'Leary. He was stationed in the House of Representatives press gallery on that Wednesday. He's a photographer for The Post.

Bill: I started in 1984, which, among other things, makes me the oldest person in the photo department. On that day, I wanted to be as far away from COVID spreading mobs as possible and requested the Hill as an assignment because it would be so safe.

[music]

Speaker: Madam Speaker, the vice president and the United States Senate.

Bill: It started off exactly as expected, fairly dull and perfunctory.

[applause]

Martine: This was just as Trump was finishing his speech before the mob started attacking the Capitol.

Mike Pence: Madam Speaker, members of Congress, pursuant to the Constitution and the laws of the United States, the Senate and House of Representatives are meeting in joint session.

Bill: Just about at one o'clock on the dot with the calling of each state in alphabetical order, the vice president, Pence, would ask.

Pence: Are there any objections to counting the certificate of vote of the state of Alabama that the teller has verified appears to be--

Bill: If no one objected, then he would say, "Okay, this is certified" and they'd read the number of electors.

Speaker: The certificate of the electoral vote of the state of Alabama seems to be--

Speaker: Mr. President, the certificate of the electoral vote of the State of Alaska.

Speaker: The certificate of the electoral vote of the State of Arizona.

Bill: Within 15 minutes, the first objection popped up.

Pence: Are there any objections to counting the certificate of vote of the State of Arizona that the teller has verified appears to be regular in form and authentic?

Bill: There was an objection from Representative Gosar.

Paul Gosar: I rise up both for myself and 60 of my colleagues to object to the counting of the electoral ballots from Arizona.

Bill: That was seconded by Senator Ted Cruz.

Pence: An objection presented in writing and signed by both a representative and a senator complies with the law.

Bill: That forces the session to interrupt itself and each chamber has to separate and debate it themselves

Pence: Report its decision back to the joint session. The Senate will now retire to its chamber.

Ruben Gallego: Arizona was the first contested state. I was down there talking to my colleagues, preparing our defense.

Martine: That's Congressman Ruben Gallego, a Democrat from Arizona and a former Marine, he was on the floor of the house. What were the first indications to you that something was off or that things were starting to escalate?

Gallego: When they took away the leadership. I didn't see Pelosi get whisked away, but I saw Hoyer get whisked away, and that clearly told me that something was about to go down.

Jad: At 2:17, Speaker Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer are escorted out of the room by a bunch of men in suits. Just as that's happening, you hear this yell come from the back of the room.

Speaker: The House will be in order, okay.

Speaker: Because of you.

Veronica Escobar: A colleague of mine shouted that and other colleagues were shushing him.

Martine: That's Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, a Democrat from Texas. The shout she heard was from a fellow Democrat. He's saying to the Republicans, "This is because of you."

Speaker: Shut up.

Martine: You can hear one of the Republicans yell back and tell him to shut up.

Veronica: I yelled over and I said, "I'm with you, buddy" because I felt the same way. I felt exactly the same way. It was because of them.

Bill: A reporter showed me, he pointed to me his phone and the image I saw were hundreds of people crawling over the scaffolding. That was a little disconcerting because I know where that scaffolding is, it's right next to the front door, deep inside the boundaries and there were lots of people.

Gallego: A Capitol Police Sergeant, I believe, came in, and he tried to speak calmly, but I could tell he was breathing heavily. He says, at first, people have broken in, they've broken through the barriers. That doesn't really scare us. We've seen that happen before with different type of protesters, and then somebody else came in and started saying that we needed to lock the doors and lock ourselves in. At this point, we're still trying to continue with the debate. I don't think any of us wanted us to stop, especially for a bunch of thugs and terrorists. Some members of Congress are shouting at the Republicans. We started hearing pounding on the front door of Congress.

Speaker: Then an announcement comes over and said, "Everybody under your seat, there's a bag. Open that bag and put on the escape hood."

Martine: These are basically light gas masks. They actually live under every seat in the house in the senate all the time, like the lifejacket under the seats in a plane and they've got little motorized fans to pump in filtered air.

Speaker: There was a confusing little moment when representatives are looking at each other and they're pulling out these shiny plastic bags. It looks to me like if you took a dry cleaning bag and pulled it over yourself. There was a lot of "What do I do with this?" kind of energy going on.

Martine: The other absurd thing about these masks is that they actually make this sound, like the high-pitched buzz.

[buzzing sound]

Speaker: Imagine if a dentist's to drill is whirring in your ear while you're being evacuated from a hazardous situation. That's what it sounded like to me anyway.

Martine: In the middle of this very scary situation, the room sounds like it's filled with a bunch of kazoos.

Speaker: Then at this point, now people are getting really animated and excited, and the pounding on the front door of the House of Representatives is getting increasingly stronger.

Speaker: When the bags came out, they're not intuitive. It's just a folded up piece of plastic. Representative Ruben Gallego jumped up on a couple of chairs and started instructing his fellow congressmen and women how to open the bag, how to use it.

Martine: Remember Gallego is a former Marine. He's been trained in using gas masks, he's gone through drills with real tear gas, and he sees some of his colleagues literally start to hyperventilate, and he's afraid that one of them might actually pass out.

Ruben Gallego: I think people were about to really freak out and you can't have freakouts in a very tense situation.

Speaker: We can get on or we can resume.

Speaker: Fuck off.

Speaker: On the floor, there were staff members, and I think even a few representatives starting to drag furniture from parts of the room, desks and benches, and we're piling it up to fortify the main door to the chamber. The door where the president walks through every state of the union, that's the door that they were assembling outside. When there were a quick sequence of pops, two in a row, some of my colleagues are convinced that these were gunshots, but I'm still not convinced to that.

Martine: They could have been stun grenades or flashbangs, they could have been breaking glass.

Speaker: It caused everyone's temperature to rise. People began to duck, guns get pulled and everything just froze at that point.

[background noise]

Speaker: What was burned and will forever be in my brain is the image of those Capitol Police officers behind that piece of furniture pointing their guns through the broken glass of the door with faces on the other side. They were what was standing between us and that mob. That's when I thought we may never make it out of the chamber.

Speaker: Get down.

Speaker: They want us down.

Speaker: Get down.

Speaker: There's more shouting, they were more rioters outside the door. This is when Capitol Police are basically like, "We need to go now."

Speaker: The security forces on the floor started moving people out of the chamber and down the stairway.

Gallego: I was one of the last ones to leave to make sure we didn't miss anybody because that's also a very dangerous thing.

Martine: Congressman Gallego walks out into the speaker's lobby and towards the staircase.

Gallego: As I looked last left, that's when I saw a barricaded door, the rioters, the terrorists, the seditionists pounding on the door. I was afraid the were going to break through and there were still members trying to get down into the tunnels. I really thought we may have to fight our way out of this or fight them off enough until security got there. As I proceeded down the stairs, you could tell that Capitol security had set up a safety corridor to move us through. Though it was very hasty, I would tell you, at one point, I get to a hallway, and Capitol Police is grabbing two young guys with rifles and telling them to stand here, and if anybody comes, shoot them. The fact that they're not covering all the sectors for our evacuation, that was very scary when I heard that.

Jad: Okay, we'll be right back with more from Martine Powers Post Reports from The Washington Post in just a moment.

[advertisement]

This is Radiolab, Jad here with The Washington Post reporter and host, Martine Powers from the Post's daily podcast, Post Reports. We're going through the play by play of the events you guys created that layout January 6th, which I found regulatory to listen to. At a certain point in your story, you talk with Post Reporter Carol Leonnig about a particular video of Officer Eugene Goodman. This is a video that the entire Radiolab team was slacking back and forth all week because you see one guy running up the stairwell floor-by-floor being chased by an angry mob, and the dynamics between them are really confusing.

Martine: Also, I think it's worth mentioning that Eugene Goodman is Black. This entire mob, at least from what we can see in the video, is white. I remember seeing that and it made my skin crawl. It almost felt like a lynching in progress. I think that's one of the reasons why it scared so many of us.

Jad: Yes, and I want to excerpt you and Carol talking about this, that video.

Carol: When I first saw it, I thought this poor man, he has a baton, he doesn't seem to be willing to pull his weapon, he's been chased up two flights of steps by a marauding band, the first group that's gotten in. They're threatening him and he's radioing for help when he gets to the top of the second-floor steps, and you think that he is in panic for his life, but as it turns out, he is extremely calculated. When he gets to the top of that second floor, he looks left, the mob is below him in a tiny, tiny stairwell, and they're still coming, and he looks right, and he literally leads them walking backwards to the right.

It's such a key moment because the Senate is open, the chamber is open to the left where he looked and glanced quickly, and they are still trying to seal that chamber to make sure that no one gets inside and there are lawmakers still fleeing. When he pulls right, they follow him. That decision, that split-second decision may have saved lives.

[music]

Jad: Okay, I want to end with one more excerpt from inside the building.

Mike Gallagher: Right now, I am sheltered in place in my office, because we have protesters who have stormed the Capitol.

Martine: That's Congressman Mike Gallagher from Wisconsin. He cannot believe what he is hearing and seeing from the Capitol. He wants to send a message to the president, so he reaches out to him in the most direct way that he can think of, he posts a video on Twitter.

Gallagher: We have got to stop this. Mr. President, you have got to stop this. You are the only person who can call this off. I was desperate and I felt the only thing I could do trapped in my office was to try and communicate the gravity of the situation to the White House, and they were in the best position to prevent further violence and chaos.

Martine: Gallagher within a politically challenging spot. He is a Republican, but he also disagreed with his colleague's attempts to undermine the election results. In this moment, literally hiding from rioters, he is struggling with how to feel about the president and about his coworkers.

Gallagher: There's a cost to lying to people. for a long time. The fundamental idea that Congress was going to change the election results in January 6 was an unconstitutional lie. I don't know if that produced the violence, but it certainly didn't help.

Martine: Gallagher, by the way, was not with the other House members in the secure room. He happened to be in his office in another building when the evacuation started, and the safest strategy was just to shelter in place with his aides.

Gallagher: We just started gaming it out, so we barricaded the doors, we looked out the window, and quickly ascertained that it was too high up to survive a drop, so we couldn't leave out the window if we had to. We left the window open interestingly enough as a decoy if we had then to retreat to my inner office, but then we had what now seems absurd in retrospect, but at the time, I assure you it was quite serious, a discussion where, on my wall, I have my ceremonial Marine Corps sword, the Mameluke sword there.

Martine: How big is the sword or what does it actually look like?

Gallagher: It's a curved blade, old school, kind of like what you'd imagine a very fancy pirate might carry. I started to think, "Okay, we have no weapons in this office to defend ourselves," and so I took my sword out of its display case. I had this debate with my staff about, okay, I'm going to use the sword, we have two flag poles in here, one is the American flag, one is the Wisconsin flag, you guys can use those as pikes.

Martine: Oh my gosh.

Gallagher: I know it sounds absurd, but in the moment, it was quite serious.

Martine: From his window, Gallagher could only get a little sense of what was happening outside.

Gallagher: I could hear the flashbangs in the distance as the Capitol Police were trying to get control of the crowd, you could see the CS gas in the air.

Martine: Back at the Capitol, officers with the Metropolitan Police Department were still trying to help Capitol Police keep riders out of this tunnel.

[background noise]

Speaker: Immediately, I walk up to the officers, I rush up to the officers and I start yelling out, "Who needs a break? Who needs some rest." As we're making our way through this crowd, officers were handing me guys that were only being held up by other officers' body weight. We keep making our way through the crowd. Once we passed through and Jimmy and I got up to the front, at that moment, I remember seeing we weren't just battling 50 or 60 rioters in this tunnel, there's like 15,000 people out here. It was so surreal. It looks like some medieval battle scene with all these flags. The next thing I know, I was grabbed and I was pulled into the crowd.

[background noise]

Speaker: I remember hearing people yelling, "We got one, we got one, pull him in." I remember being tased numerous times, and then just beaten it seemed like from every angle because they were just ripping shit off. They tore my badge off my vest. Guys were yelling to get my gun, "Kill him with his own gun." I thought, "No, that's it," I'm just going to get stripped down and drove through the west front of the Capitol. I was trying to think in a calculated way like maybe I could appeal to somebody's humanity. I remember yelling like, "I have kids."

[music]

Speaker: It's just the zealotry of these people is absolutely unreal. They believe wholeheartedly in something that there is no evidence of, and they refer to themselves as patriots even while they're besieging the capital of the United States. They call us traitors even while they're waving the thin blue line flag and beating us with it literally in some cases.

[music]

Carol: There are numerous first-person accounts now coming to us from police officers, both at the Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department indicating that they saw off-duty cops, they saw cops with their badges, they saw military personnel, they saw people with the kind of tactical gear you don't have by going to Dick's Sporting Goods and buying it. That these were people who have worked or do work in our national security firmament, and that they had joined in this protest. That is a fascinating feature of the division of our country. There were, sad to say, police officers who believed they were being hit by other police officers.

Martine: Police are fighting throughout the afternoon and into the evening to get back control of the Capitol building and the grounds. While that's happening, members of the House and Senate are locked inside the secure rooms. Can you describe, once you were inside, what the mood in the room was?

Veronica: Oh my God, it was a sea of humanity.

[background noise]

Some of that humanity was unmasked and I immediately felt unsafe inside of the safe room. I'm sure you've seen the video by now of Lisa Blunt Rochester offering them masks, and they're laughing and they're completely indignant.

Lisa Blunt Rochester: Don't do yourself any favors.

Gallego: Yes, there were some members that actually went over and offered them masks and they refused.

Martine: Wow. Were people trying to distance themselves from these members or--?

Gallego: You could only distance yourself so much, it's a room full of 200 members.

Martine: People mostly sat, talked to other members, texted their families and their staff, charged their phones. You could still hear that weird droning sound from some of the gas masks. While they just sat there waiting for the capitol to be cleared, they also thought about what would happen when they eventually got back to the floor of the House.

Gallego: I know I had a conversation with a Republican member of Congress and told him that they have gone off the rails and this was not a coincidence and he agreed, but of course, then he ended up voting anyway to overturn the elections of Arizona.

Martine: He actually agreed. When you were talking to him, he was like, "Yes."

Gallego: Yes.

Martine: Wow.

Gallego: Yes.

Martine: Can I ask which congressman this was?

Gallego: No, it's not worth it. [laughs]

Veronica: There was a member from the other side of the aisle wanting to pray and I was furious. I was so filled with rage. I pray sometimes multiple times a day. I very much believe in prayer, I prayed with Lisa Blunt Rochester as we were crouched in the gallery. I couldn't pray with them. I was disgusted that something that I believe they helped cause, and potentially aided and abetted in creating, they were now saying, "Let's leave this to God." I was outraged and I was beside myself between the prayer and the lack of a mask. I was really upset.

[music]

Jad: Okay, we'll end the excerpt there. To hear the full story, which goes into way more detail than we included here, I highly recommend, highly recommend, you search for Post Reports wherever you get your podcasts, subscribe to it. Martine, thank you for allowing us to share your work and for doing the work.

Martine: Thank you for having me and having us.

Jad: Yes. Also, thanks to Ted Muldoon and Rennie Swarnofsky for producing this story with Martine and Maggie Penman for editing it. I'd Jad Abumrad, thanks for listening.

[music]

Dan Green: Hi this is Dan Green calling from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Radiolab was created by Jad Abumrad and is edited by Soren Wheeler. Lulu Miller and Latif Nasser are our co-hosts. Dylan Keefe is our director of sound design. Suzie Lechtenberg is our executive producer. Our staff includes Simon Adler, Jeremy Bloom, Becca Bressler, Rachael Cusick, David Gebel, Matt Kielty, Tobin Low, Annie McEwen, Sarah Qari, Arianne Wack, Pat Walters, and Molly Webster. With help from Shima Oliaee, Sarah Sandbach, and Jonny Moens. Our fact-checker is Michelle Harris.

 

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