Jan. 6 committee shows video of congressional leaders rushed to safety as Trump watched riot on TV

The committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection sit along a wide desk.
The committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol held what will likely be its last pre-election televised hearing Thursday.
(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)

The committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection released new video Thursday showing congressional leaders and then-Vice President Mike Pence responding to the violent breach of the Capitol in bipartisan fashion.

The video presented a striking contrast in the actions of those who were rushed to safety inside the Capitol and former President Trump, who watched the riot play out on television inside the White House dining room, rejecting pleas to publicly call for an end to violence and tell his supporters to go home.

“The president watched the bloody attack unfold on Fox News from his dining room,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said. “Members of Congress and other government officials stepped into the gigantic leadership void created by the president’s chilling and steady passivity that day. What you’re about to see is previously unseen footage of congressional leaders — both Republicans and Democrats — as they were taken to a secure location during the riot. You’ll see how everyone involved was working actively to stop the violence, to get federal law enforcement deployed to the scene to put down the violence and secure the Capitol complex.”


The video shows Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) on a phone call while being led to a secure location around 2:23 p.m., stressing that Congress must finish its election certification “or else they will have a complete victory.”

Amid clips of the riot and Capitol breach, the video also highlights some of the actions of Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.).

“Do you believe this?” Pelosi asks, turning to House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) after she learns that members on the House floor were putting on tear gas masks.

Other clips show Pelosi and Schumer furiously phoning officials for assistance, including the mayor of Washington, the governor of Virginia, the acting Defense secretary and acting attorney general.

“They’re breaking windows and going in — obviously ransacking our offices and all the rest of that. That’s nothing,” Pelosi says as she and Schumer appear huddled together during a call with Jeffrey Rosen, the then-acting head of the Department of Justice. “The concern we have about personal harm, personal safety, just transcends everything. But the fact is on any given day, they’re breaking the law in many different ways, and, quite frankly, much of it at the instigation of the president of the United States.”

“Yeah,” Schumer adds, “why don’t you get the president to tell them to leave the Capitol, Mr. Attorney General, in your law enforcement responsibility? A public statement they should all leave.”


On a call with Pence, Pelosi said congressional leaders were told it would “take days for the Capitol to be OK again.”

“We’ve gotten a very bad report about the condition of the House floor,” she said. “There’s defecation and all that kind of thing as well. I don’t think that that’s hard to clean up, but I do think it was more from a security standpoint of making sure that everybody is out of the building and how long will that take.”

Relaying her conversation with Pence to other Democrats inside a room, Pelosi said: “It could take time to clean up the poo poo that they’re making all over the — literally and figuratively — in the Capitol. And ... it may take days to get back.”

At nearly 6 p.m., Pelosi and Schumer are shown taking a call with Pence on speakerphone as the vice president informs them both chambers would be able to reconvene in about an hour.

“Good news,” Schumer replies.

“Thank you very much, Mr. Vice President,” Pelosi shouts. “Good news.”