What we learned about the Capitol insurrection from the House managers

To reconstruct the siege for senators, Democrats aired never-before-seen security footage from inside the Capitol that showed the attack unfolding.


WARNING: The following content may contain violent images and strong or coarse language. Viewer discretion is advised.

The nation's, and frankly the world's, attention drew to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as rioters stormed the seat of American democracy.

Television and smartphone screens were tuned in as thousands of Donald Trump supporters attempted to stop the congressional certification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory. It laid the basis for the impeachment trial currently underway in the U.S. Senate. But during the House impeachment managers arguments, new video emerged that reignited how truly close members of Congress were to danger that January day.

To reconstruct the siege for senators, Democrats aired never-before-seen security footage from inside the Capitol that showed the attack unfolding. Their presentation included chilling video of the rioters rampaging into the building and audio of distressed police officers who tried in vain to keep them out.

“We have been flanked and we’ve lost the line,” one frantic officer could be heard saying.

The presentation also showed the perilous moments when lawmakers and others, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Pence, were rushed to safety; body camera footage of an officer being beaten; the sounds of crunching, breaking glass; profane screams and violent threats; and cries as the rioters streamed into the building, some carrying riot shields and weapons.

“Where do they count the f---ing votes?” one member of the mob could be heard shouting.

“You work for us,” one yelled at officers. “Where’s that meeting at?”

Democrats warned that many of the scenes would be hard to watch, including the horrifying screams of an officer being crushed in a doorway and video of one of the rioters, Ashli E. Babbitt, being shot to death by U.S. Capitol Police.

Also never before seen: Footage of Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who has already been hailed as a hero, warning Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, that the mob was headed his way. Romney turned and dashed in the other direction.

“I did not know that was Officer Goodman," Romney told reporters after seeing it. "I look forward to thanking him when I next see him.”

Goodman also directed the mob away from the Senate Chamber and toward other officers.

If any senators were tempted to avoid images of the violence at the Capitol, or bury memories of fleeing the violent mob, they were not able to do so any longer.

“We lived this once and that was awful,” said Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, recalling how she felt when she evacuated with her colleagues. “And we’re now we’re living with a more comprehensive timeline.”

While videos of the siege have been circulating since the day of the riot, the graphic compilation provided a more complete narrative, with a chilling focus on the rioters' methodical search for lawmakers.

The rioters were “58 steps” from senators, impeachment manager Eric Swalwell told them.

Romney said he was brought to tears. The video was “overwhelmingly distressing and emotional,” he said afterward.

The presentation ended with a video of a police officer, Daniel Hodges of Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, yelling in pain as he was crushed between two doors on the Capitol’s West Front. His anguished screams filled the quiet, cavernous chamber as if he were right there in the room.

Senators were silent afterward, some sitting quietly and alone, as if to process it all. Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin, sitting at the front of the room, put his head in his hands.

“It was extremely quiet,” said Maine Sen. Susan Collins, describing the atmosphere. “You could hear a pin drop.”

It is unclear if the Democrats' presentation will change any votes, as Trump is still expected to be acquitted in the end. But senators were clearly rattled by what they saw.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has sat remarkably still and unmoving through the trial, uncharacteristically propped himself up in his seat, leaning forward as the prosecutors showed images of the rioters breaking through the outside perimeter and Capitol Police yelling “No! No! No!” as they were overrun. Utah Sen. Mike Lee moved his chair so he was fully facing the screen, furiously scribbling notes. Others opted to just listen as the angry screams of the rioters reverberated around the chamber.

Democrats said they were sad and frustrated by it all.

“How can you watch this and not vote to convict?” asked Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware as he stepped outside for a break after the presentation.

Many Republicans did watch it but made clear their stance. Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford, who was speaking on the Senate floor at the moment it was evacuated, was visibly shaken by the video and said the presentation was “painful,” but he doesn’t think Trump incited the riot. Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who read what appeared to be a magazine or a document as some of the video played, said minutes afterward that the trial was a “waste of time.”

“Listen, you’ve got to weigh all of the information together,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley as he left the chamber.

One senator appeared to not watch. Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a fierce opponent of Trump’s impeachment, turned away from the screen next to him and scribbled on a notepad, sometimes with his hand on his forehead, as if to shield himself. He walked out of the room in the middle of the presentation, as impeachment manager Stacey Plaskett detailed the threats to Pence’s life.

But most watched it all.

Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, said watching the video “reignited my anger — a lot of anger."

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who is retiring from the Senate and has said he’s undecided on whether to convict Trump, said the Senate was reliving a horrible day. “That’s not easy," he said.