On Jan. 6, rioters charging through the halls of the U.S. Capitol, pounded on the door to the office where U.S. Sen. Patty Murray was hiding with her husband. She recalls shouts of having “breached the castle” and to “kill the infidels.”
“I was not safe. It was a horrific feeling, and it lasted for a long time,” recalled Murray in her first public account of her close encounter with the mob that stormed the Capitol in an interview that aired Friday evening on PBS News Hour.”
The voice of Murray, the senior member of the Washington U.S. Senate delegation and third in the Democratic leadership, was often taut with emotion as she offered chilling details of her experience that day. Murray spoke on the eve of what is expected to be a historic Senate impeachment trial vote Saturday on whether to convict former President Donald Trump on a charge of inciting the rioters with his actions before and during his Jan. 6 rally that preceded a march to the Capitol.
On that day, Murray said in the PBS interview, she was preparing for remarks she would make on the Senate floor, and was working in an office nearby. She had heard the president give a speech to his supporters at the rally, and knew the crowd was “pretty negative.” But once she was in that office with her husband, she texted her family to say she was safe.
Then things changed.
She could see out a window that protesters were breaking into the building. She still thought she was safe because she was in the Capitol, and “that’s what we feel.”
But she heard explosions and yelling, and soon, people in the hallway outside the office.
Murray said she and her husband had to be very quiet. They made eye contact, “and just we can see each other’s eyes: ‘Please, please let this door be locked.'”
“And this vision of my husband just putting his foot against a door, like he might be able to hold down this incredibly loud, angry, even jubilant mob outside our door was just beyond belief,” Murray said in the interview with PBS’ Judy Woodruff, anchor of “News Hour.”
The “terror I saw in his eyes was something I have not seen, and we have been married almost 49 years.”
“They were — I remember somebody saying: ‘Get me the map. I need the map.’
“It sounded like they were talking on walkie-talkies … to somebody else and getting directions. So, they knew what they were looking for.
“And by the way, they didn’t know it was me, I don’t think. It could have been anyone. It could have been any member of Congress. I don’t think it mattered whether we were Republican or Democrat, woman or man. They were in there to kill the infidels, as they were saying.”
Murray said the ordeal lasted about an hour.
She told Woodruff that she has had a hard time talking about the day. She said she didn’t want the rioters to ever feel like they “had instilled fear in me or kept me from doing what I needed to do.”
Murray said she decided to speak about the ordeal Friday because, “as I listened yesterday to the House managers, and they talked about the senators being 58 steps away, that I was inches away.”
Murray said that “you show your fear is overcome by strength, by speaking out and speaking against what happened in the Capitol … I want a country that uses words and voices, that speaks out against this kind of brute force, that does not allow it to be what runs our democracy.”