WASHINGTON — This time, the videos came from the inside — silent, chilling, never-before-seen footage from security cameras mounted throughout the U.S. Capitol.
In one, Vice President Mike Pence hustles down a stairway, with only a quick glance back as rioters draw closer. Not far away, Sen. Mitt Romney spins around and runs from the encroaching mob. And on the other side of the Capitol, insurrectionists pound on doors near House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, as her staffers cower inside.
These chilling scenes — captured as the Capitol was breached on Jan. 6 — were made public for the first time Wednesday, part of a meticulous re-creation of the violent siege offered by House Democrats during the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.
In addition to the security camera footage, Democratic impeachment managers marshaled a mountain of new evidence, including video from police body cameras and audio from police dispatches as lines were breached and officers frantically called for help. The presentation — the most detailed to date of the assault — underscored the importance of video, much of it shot and posted on social media by the attackers themselves, in shaping public understanding of the event.
“You know how close you came to the mob. Some of you, I understand, could hear them,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., as he narrated the footage along with Del. Stacey Plaskett, D-Virgin Islands.
“But most of the public does not know how close these rioters came to you as you were moving through that hallway,” he said. “I paced it off. You were just 58 steps away.”
Twice, senators were shown in footage being shuttled out of the chamber, in addition to video of Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and his protective detail in “a near miss with the mob.”
“They came within just yards of rioters and had to turn around,” said Swalwell, a former prosecutor.
Newly released radio dispatches from the District of Columbia police also echoed through the Senate chamber with the voices of law enforcement officers calling for backup and overwhelmed by the surging crowd that was armed with metal poles, baseball bats and plastic shields.
“We need some reinforcements up here now. They’re starting to pull the gates down. They’re throwing metal poles at us,” one officer yelled.
As the situation escalated outside the Capitol, the officers continued shouting for help.
“We’re still taking rocks, bottles and pieces of flag and metal pole,” the officer shouted. “The crowd is using munitions against us. They have bear spray in the crowd. Bear spray in the crowd.”
Radio recordings reinforced the harrowing situation officers encountered as a digital model of the Capitol complex on display Wednesday showed the exact location of the crowd throughout the day.
“We lost the line,” an officer shouted, telling fellow officers to pull back. “We have been flanked, and we’ve lost the line.”
Before Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman famously faced down a mob of rioters, the new footage showed him also helping Romney, the senator from Utah. Goodman runs toward Romney and directs him to turn around, away from approaching Trump supporters. The senator is seen changing course and running in the other direction.
Romney, who voted in favor of proceeding with the trial, said Wednesday he had not known previously that it was Goodman who pointed him in the right direction.
Watching and listening to the officers in distress, Romney said, “tears at your heart and brings tears to your eyes. That was overwhelmingly distressing and emotional.”
Several Republican senators appeared moved by the House impeachment managers’ presentation Wednesday, although the senators did not indicate whether the evidence had persuaded them to convict Trump.
“I think they were very effective. They had a strong, strong presentation put together in a way that I think makes it pretty compelling,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. “I think they’ve done a good job of connecting the dots.”
In her presentation, Plaskett also described how the rioters set out to kill Pence and Pelosi, D-Calif.
She used video and the map of the Capitol to show how the mob fanned out in search of Pelosi chanting: “Nancy, where are you, Nancy? We’re looking for you.” Another tauntingly called out: “Nancy. Oh Nancy.”
The video also showed Pelosi’s staffers running into a room where they barricaded themselves and then inside an interior room.
Minutes later, the rioters are seen in the same hallway where the staffers had just been, and men are seen throwing their bodies against that outer door. One gets inside but gives up when faced with the inner room.
The staffers could hear them calling for Pelosi as they ransacked and took over her office.
House managers also used video and audio recordings from the siege to emphasize how the mob targeted Pence because he was presiding over the formal certification of President Biden’s victory and resisting Trump’s pressure to overturn the election results.
The surveillance video shows Pence, along with members of his family and staff, being evacuated down a Capitol stairway to a secure location away from the building.
The evacuation took place at 2:26 p.m. — 14 minutes after the rioters entered the building.
Moments before Pence was evacuated, the House managers reminded senators, Trump had lashed out at the vice president in a tweet.
“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify,” Trump wrote. “USA demands the truth!”
— — —
The Washington Post’s Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz and Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.