The House Democrats prosecuting former President Trump’s impeachment case unveiled harrowing new video footage on Wednesday, lending a new glimpse of just how close the rioters came to former Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. senators as they breached the Capitol on Jan. 6.
The new footage, released on the second day of Trump’s Senate trial, takes advantage of Capitol security cameras positioned around the complex, depicting both the violent intentions of the mob and the heroics of several Capitol Police officers, including Eugene Goodman, who diverted the mob away from senators on the chamber floor.
The videos are meant to drive home the Democrats’ argument that the former president purposefully stirred up his supporters with claims of a stolen election and then encouraged them to march on the Capitol to block the vote certifying the victory of his opponent, President Biden.
“This was a deliberate, premeditated incitement to his base to attack our Capitol while the counting was going on,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), one of the impeachment managers. “And it was foreseeable, especially to President Trump, who warned us he knew what was coming.”
Video shows a group of violent Trump supporters overwhelming Capitol Police and charging through a barricade set up at the West Front of the Capitol. In previously unreleased audio of internal Capitol Police dispatches, officers can be heard frantically warning of breaches and calling for reinforcements.
“They’re throwing metal poles at us,” one officer shouts.
Another officer calls in with grim news. “We have been flanked, and we’ve lost the line,” he tells dispatch.
At 1:49 p.m., the breach was formally declared a riot.
Among the revelations from the new footage: Goodman is seen racing down a second floor hallway toward the Senate chamber, where he bumps into Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who is fleeing toward the Rotunda. Goodman appears to redirect Romney back toward the chamber — and safety.
Some of the new footage was taken from the dozens of security cameras that are positioned inside the Capitol and the connected House and Senate office buildings as well as around the Capitol grounds.
Until now, video from those security cameras had not been shown to the public. The FBI has taken possession of most of those videos as part of its ongoing investigating into the Jan. 6 assault.
Some of the rioters who broke into the Capitol have indicated they were planning to assassinate Pence for refusing to block certification of Biden’s victory, as Trump had asked him to do.
But Secret Service did not evacuate Pence or his wife, daughter and brother, Rep. Greg Pence (R-Ind.), out of a room connected to the Senate chamber until 2:26 p.m., 37 minutes after the initial breach, according to new security footage shown by the prosecutors.
The clear timeline reveals just how close a call it was for Pence.
The new security footage also shows senators running down a flight of stairs just off the Senate floor and fleeing down a hallway as rioters are physically held off by police.
“You know how close you came to the mob. Some of you, I understand, could hear them,” Swalwell told senators. “But most of the public does not know how close these rioters came to you.”
Swalwell said he went back to the scene of the crime and paced out the distance between the swarming mob and the senators: 58 steps.
A final video clip, just before Swalwell gave up the microphone, showed a Capitol Police officer screaming out while being crushed in a doorway as the mob stormed in.
During a break in the trial immediately afterward, Senate Republicans expressed outrage at the attack.
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) offered only two words: “Graphic, disgusting.”
“Very powerful,” added Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.).
But there was little indication that the Democrats’ dramatic presentation had changed the minds of any significant number of GOP senators, who are expected to vote overwhelmingly to clear Trump of any wrongdoing at the trial’s end.
“They spent a great deal of time focusing on the horrific acts of violence that were played out by the criminals, but the language from the president doesn’t come close to meeting the legal standard for incitement,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who had helped lead the GOP effort to overturn the election results in several states.
“They started the day by playing video of the president saying things like ‘fight’ and ‘win’ and ‘take back our country,’” he added. “If that language is going to be deemed incitement, there’s not a political candidate in the country who hasn’t used the very same language.”
New footage also reveals eight members of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) staff fleeing their offices and ducking into a conference room, which had the advantage of being double-doored. There they huddled beneath a desk and waited in fear.
The security cameras captured rioters arriving in that hallway seven minutes later and one of them slamming into the outer door, breaking it in. The inner door was never breached.
Impeachment managers then played the audio of a phone call from one of Pelosi’s aides who was seeking help from the Capitol Police.
“They’re pounding the doors trying to find her,” the aide is heard whispering into the phone.
Pelosi herself, second in line to the presidency, was escorted off the House floor and evacuated out of the Capitol complex and to an undisclosed, off-site location due to the severity of the threat against her.
“The Capitol Police deemed the threat so dangerous [to Pelosi] that they evacuated her entirely from the Capitol complex,” Del. Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands), another House impeachment manager, told the senators.
“We know from the rioters themselves that if they had found Speaker Pelosi,” Plaskett said, “they would have killed her.”
After spending much of the afternoon paying varying levels of attention to the prosecutors, some Republican senators were clearly moved by the new footage of Pence being evacuated, Pelosi’s staff barricading themselves and officers being viciously attacked.
“It was riveting,” moderate Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said after the presentation. It “just reinforces my belief that it was a terrible day for our country and that there’s no doubt that it was an attempt to disrupt the counting of the electoral votes.”
And Senate Republican Whip John Thune of South Dakota said the impeachment managers “were very effective.”
“They had a strong, strong presentation, put together in a way that I think makes it very compelling,” Thune told reporters. “I think they’ve done a good job connecting the dots.”