‘They were literally pounding on the windows’: Mass. lawmakers who were in Capitol building react to insurrection

Four state lawmakers were forced to shelter and evacuate

By Ana Pietrewicz, Assistant Op/Ed Editor

A mob of insurrectionists breached the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday afternoon, where the nation’s lawmakers were certifying the results of the presidential election.

Among the Massachusetts lawmakers forced to shelter and evacuate were Reps. Richard Neal and Jim McGovern, as well as Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren.

Neal, who is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, was in his office just off of the floor of the House of Representatives — in the middle of a Zoom call — when the Capitol was breached, he said in a press conference with reporters Thursday morning.

“As soon as I got done with the conversation, I could see that the situation was quickly spiraling out of control,” Neal said.

“There are two windows that rest right behind my chair in room 208, and as I went to the window, there they were,” he said. “They were literally pounding on the windows, and when I went back last evening one of the windows was smashed.”

Neal was barricaded in his office during the beginning of the attack, using a table to keep insurrectionists from opening the office doors. He said at one point Capitol Police came to help him and others in his office evacuate safely.

“They did a really nice job on the inside,” Neal said. “They stayed with us and they said, look, we’ve got to turn out the lights, we’re going to caution you to stay off the phones and we really need quiet here. It was pretty harrowing for a good half hour to 45 minutes.”

Neal is among dozens of lawmakers supporting the invocation of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which would remove President Donald Trump from office for the remainder of his term and temporarily put Vice President Mike Pence in the executive seat.

On Thursday morning, McGovern tweeted in support of the action.

“The Vice President and the Cabinet should vote, today, on invoking the 25th amendment,” he wrote. “Every second that Donald Trump remains in office is a threat to the Constitution of the United States which they swore to support and defend.”

McGovern also called for the prosecution of the insurrectionists, tweeting, “Every. Single. Person. Who participated in this attempted coup must be held accountable to the full extent of the law.”

McGovern was in the House Chamber when the Capitol Building was breached, according to a tweet. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Markey, who was also in the building during the breach, called for the prosecution of the mob. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shortly after the certification of electoral votes resumed Wednesday night, Markey spoke on the Senate floor during the vote on the objection of Arizona’s electoral votes. Markey called for another impeachment trial for Trump and for the abolition of the electoral college.

“Donald Trump is responsible for today’s coup at the Capitol and the attack on our government and democracy. He is a direct threat to our country. He needs to be impeached, removed from office, and barred from ever holding office again,” he tweeted.

Markey also said the allegations of voter fraud and attempts by his colleagues to object to electoral votes are seditious.

“We’re using the first days of the new senate to give time to our radical Republican colleagues’ baseless and damaging claims of election fraud all in an attempt to keep Trump in office in violation of the United States Constitution,” Markey said during the proceedings. “There’s a word for this. It’s called sedition.”

Warren, another congressperson in favor of invoking the 25th Amendment, also spoke out on the Senate floor against objections to electoral votes.

“Losing is hard,” she said. “I ran for president myself. It was a hard-fought primary, but Joe Biden won and I lost. I am not the only one to live through that. A number of senators in this room have run for president. None of us was successful and when we lost, we conceded and we got out of the race because that is how democracy works.”

Warren went on to blame Trump for his “poisonous lies,” claiming that the insurrection at the Capitol was a “direct result” of the president’s actions.

“His words have consequences,” she said. “Our democracy has been grievously injured by this lying coward. This effort to subvert our democracy is not merely one last presidential tantrum. This effort is designed to knockout the basic pillar on which democracy is founded.”

Ana Pietrewicz can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @anapietrewicz.