DENVER – All nine Colorado members of Congress were safe at the U.S. Capitol after they were placed on lockdown before being evacuated after gangs of Trump supporters breached police barricades and stormed into the Capitol building Wednesday.
Hundreds of supporters incited by President Trump to come to Washington D.C. to protest the results of the presidential election on the day that the electoral votes are certified quickly broke down police barricades Wednesday morning and stormed the Capitol building as the electoral count was ongoing.
The group had gathered after being urged by Trump and dozens of Republican senators and members of the House to protest the certification of Biden, which was to be more of a formality than anything before the groups overran the Capitol. Trump and the lawmakers have claimed without evidence there was widespread fraud in six swing states, though all of those states say those claims are false and have certified their elections.
Several of Colorado’s House members tweeted their thoughts on the unprecedented scene as they sat waiting for more orders on what to do before they were evacuated from their chambers.
“I’m currently in lockdown in the House chamber as the President of the United States incites his supporters to violence and to storm the Capitol. This is the outcome of Trump’s presidency,” tweeted Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo.
Just before 2 p.m., Crow tweeted his team was safe: “Update: I was trapped in the House Chamber with a few members for a little while as protestors tried to ram down the doors. We didn’t know how we were gonna get out, but Capitol Police were able to clear a route and get us out. We’re all now being protected in a secure location.”
Crow said just after 2:30 p.m. MT that lawmakers would return to the Capitol Wednesday.
"We have stopped the coup attempt and will be returning to the Capitol today to finish the business of the people. We will never back down, we will return," he tweeted.
Crow said in an interview Wednesday evening he was still “trying to wrap my brain around what happened and come to terms with the whole experience.”
Crow said he was one of about 15 or 20 who got trapped in the House chambers by what he called a “mob.”
“I thought we were going to have to fight our way out,” Crow said. “I was thinking about my whole life and having served as an Army Ranger with three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan to fight for this country and defend her. I never thought for a moment in my life I’d be called upon to have to fight my way out of the House floor as a member of the U.S. Congress.”
Crow said he was “extremely angry” and “very sad” about what happened Wednesday and called it “one of the darkest times in American history.”
“We are locked down in the US Capitol because the president has instigated a riot to try to block us from certifying the election for his opponent. This is not who we are as Americans. We are so much better than this,” said Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo.
DeGette’s chief of staff, Lisa Cohen, said she was not at the Capitol Wednesday when it was stormed because of COVID-19 and safety concerns.
She said that the mayor of Washington D.C. and Capitol Police had reassured members and staff on Capitol Hill they were taking “extraordinary steps” to prevent what happened Wednesday.
“This is far beyond mischief. As Diana just said, we lived through 9/11 together in the Capitol. She said this is far, far worse and far more terrifying.”
DeGette had been invited to watch the proceedings in the gallery and sheltered there as the group who broken into the Capitol made their way to the second and third floors. Cohen said that after some time, they were escorted by police to a secure location but had to run through some back halls.
Cohen said she believes President Trump needs to concede the election and call his supporters off, saying they were following his direction.
“You can’t foment an insurrection in one hand and then say, ‘Oh, be peaceful,’ on the other hand. And the only way I see this even beginning to come to an end is if he concedes,” she said.
DeGette in a statement issued just after 4 p.m. MT called the storming of the Capitol and comments from the president an “attempted coup.”
DeGette said just before 5 p.m. MT that she thinks Trump should be impeached again and removed from office. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., said earlier in the afternoon she was drawing up more articles of impeachment.
“President Trump instigated a violent attack on our government in an attempt to remain in power against the will of the people. He should be impeached, removed from office and arrested immediately,” DeGette said. But she deleted the tweet and later said, "He should be impeached and removed from office immediately."
“Today, the president of the United States instigated a riot and urged his supporters to lay siege to the U.S. Capitol Building to try to prevent us from certifying the election for his opponent,” she said. “Make no mistake: This was not a protest, it was an attempted coup. And I never thought I’d see the day that our own president would attempt to bring down our government because he lost an election.”
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., who just minutes before the electoral count was stopped loudly voiced her objection to Arizona’s certified election results, said that she was locked down and that the House Speaker had been removed. Vice President Mike Pence, who was overseeing the joint session of Congress, was also escorted from the chambers before all members were evacuated.
"Thank you to everyone that has been checking in. My staff and I are safe and in an undisclosed location. I support peaceful protests and the rule of law, and denounce all acts of violence. I am grateful to the Capitol Police for their service. Thank you for keeping us safe," Boebert tweeted just before 3 p.m. MT.
In an interview, Buck said that they were told to get the gas masks from under their seats about 10 minutes after the Capitol was breached.
“You could heart that people were trying to force their way through the doors. So with some members evacuated, I helped police grab some heavy furniture and move it in front of the doors to try to help the Capitol Police and securing the House floor.”
He said people started breaking the glass on the doors to the House about 10 minutes later and he was officers with their guns drawn, though he was not sure if the people on the other side of the door were armed.
He said he was among the last members in the House and went through the tunnels before checking on his staff and “hunkering down” in another area of the Capitol.
Buck, who said that members of Congress should not object to the electoral vote certification but who has gone along with some of the president’s attacks on election fraud in some other states but not Colorado, said he believes that there should still be a “deep dive” to discover if there was widespread fraud in the election. Courts across the country have not been shown any evidence so far there was.
Buck said that Republicans “have to recognize that Joe Biden won this election.”
“While I see the frustration on both sides, I think it’s important that we come together as a country and with leadership and not deny the other side’s legitimacy,” he said. “This was clearly a threat to our country, and it was more than just a riot at a wrestling event or some other activity. This was really designed to shut down a key function in our government and it can’t be allowed.”
Buck said that he wants people who committed criminal acts to be held accountable.
My staff and I are safe, please continue to pray for our nation.— Congressman Ken Buck (@RepKenBuck) January 6, 2021
The events unfolding at the Capitol are outrageous. We will not tolerate anarchy in this country. pic.twitter.com/RFXmeYh4qS
Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., also spoke out against the objection to Arizona’s electors just moments before the Capitol was overrun. He tweeted just before 2 p.m. MT: “We have been safely evacuated, and are sheltering in place. God bless the Capitol Police and law enforcement for their brave sacrifices. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”
A staffer for Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., confirmed the congressman was safe and no other staffers were at the Capitol Wednesday due to COVID-19 protocols.
“I am filled with sadness and anger following the attack on the U.S. Capitol today. It is the result of a fever that has been building for weeks, months and years and which has only been further incited by President Trump. Today is a point of inflection and reflection, and we need to say enough. This only strengthens our resolve to get the Electoral Votes counted and certified and continue with a peaceful transition of power, as has been a hallmark of our nation. It’s time to get back to the business of the people and of the country as we build a better future," Perlmutter said in a statement Wednesday evening.
“My staff and I are safe. I strongly condemn those individuals that have chosen to incite violence and have put our law enforcement in harm's way. Today is supposed to be a day of constitutional debate, not violence. This is not who we are as Americans,” tweeted Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., who was one of the two Colorado members of Congress, along with Boebert, who said this week he would object to the presidential electoral count.
“I am safe and my staff is safe. We are currently in a secure lockdown. Today’s attack on the Capitol and our democracy is dangerous and unacceptable,” tweeted Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.
Bennet said in a statement Wednesday evening that his daughters called him in distress about what was happening at the Capitol and said he assured them “we will make it to the other side of the crisis.”
“A day meant to affirm American democracy has become one of the darkest in our history. Reckless incitement by President Trump has ended in a violent, unprecedented breach of the United States Capitol by his supporters. It was an assault on our democracy and our commitments to pluralism, the rule of law, and the peaceful transition of power,” Bennet said, in part.
“Every Member of Congress has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution. This moment, more than any in our time, we are called as lawmakers to fulfill that oath. The least we can do is to denounce today’s lawlessness and reconvene tonight to certify the vote of the Electoral College and ensure the peaceful transition of power,” Bennet added.
Bennet spoke on the Senate floor Wednesday evening and compared the riots to what happened before Rome fell, saying that is what the Constitution hoped to avoid. He urged his colleagues to learn from what happened and confirm the democratic presidential result.
“It is my proven hope that the way we respond to this today, my dear colleagues, is that we give the biggest bipartisan vote that we can in support of our democracy and in support of our constitution and in rejection of what we saw today,” Bennet said.
Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., was safe and in a secure location, a staff member said.
“My staff and I are safe and in a secure lockdown. Grateful to Capitol Police for their work to protect us,” Hickenlooper tweeted just after 2:30 p.m. MT. “It’s a sad day for our country, but our democracy is stronger than the dangerous attack on the Capitol today.”
Around 3:30 p.m. MT, both Perlmutter and Neguse said they were safe and that they would finish their job.
“Today has been a difficult day for our country. But make no mistake — the Congress will finish the job. We will perform our duty, and honor our constitution. And the republic will endure,” Neguse said.
“I’m safe, but I'm filled w/sadness & anger as we witness these protests. It's the result of a fever that has been building for weeks, months & years, and which has only been further incited by President Trump. Today is a point of inflection & reflection, & we need to say enough,” Perlmutter said. “This only strengthens our resolve to get the Electoral Votes counted & certified and continue with a peaceful transition of power, as has been a hallmark of our nation. It’s time to get back to the business of the people & of the country as we build a better future.”
Neguse and his colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday evening sent a letter to Vice President Pence asking him to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Donald Trump from office, according to a tweet from Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I.
“For the sake of our democracy, we emphatically urge you to invoke the 25th Amendment and begin the process of removing President Trump from power,” the lawmakers wrote. “President Trump has shown time and again that he is unwilling to protect our Democracy and carry out the duties of the office.”
NEW: I am sending a letter with @RepTedLieu and our colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee, calling on Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Donald Trump from office after today’s events. pic.twitter.com/5VK8DLTLn4— David Cicilline (@davidcicilline) January 7, 2021
Perlmutter said in an interview that Congress plans to finish up the certification of the vote, something Speaker Pelosi said would occur.
“We will get this thing finished so that ultimately what has been a hallmark of our nation, the peaceful transition from one administration to another will occur,” he said. “There are people on both sides of the aisle who want to see this thing work but we also know that there’s aa lot of temper out there and it’s been getting raised for a long time. It’s going to take some time to calm everybody down.”
In a rare joint statement, Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, and Rep. Buck, a Republican, said that Americans honor the outcomes of secure and fair elections and condemned the violence from Trump’s supporters in Washington.
“In America, we hold free, fair, and secure elections and we honor the outcome. We respect the rule of law and an assault on our democratic republic is an assault on all of us who believe in our constitution and what makes our country extraordinary. We respect the peaceful transition of power. The alarming scenes that are unfolding in Washington are something you might expect to see in countries far from our shores, not in our nation’s capitol, and certainly not in the hallowed halls or on the floor of Congress. We are relieved that Colorado’s federal delegation is safe. We all must step up to protect the institutions of our republic, free and fair elections, and the rule of law,” Polis and Buck said.
“Every elected leader who helped spread lies about American elections paved the way to today,” Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said in a statement.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser called the attack on the Capitol “an assault on democracy itself” and called for the people to be held accountable.
“I am shocked and saddened that we have come to such a dark moment in our nation’s history. Like many Coloradans, I am processing the shame, sadness, and uncertainty I am feeling today. As we look forward, however, we must believe in our nation’s experiment of self-governance and our ability to summon the better angels of our nature,” Weiser said.
“I pray for our elected representatives and senators who will fulfill their constitutional duty to certify the electoral vote count, I pray for our republic, and I pray that we as a people will continue to build a ‘more perfect Union.’ America represents a bold idea—a commitment to just, orderly, and democratic self-governance. We must all do our part to live up to that idea and be our best authentic selves, particularly during this challenging time,” the attorney general added.
Jefferson Thomas, who was Trump's Colorado campaign director, tweeted, that he did not expect today's actions.
"Today is terrible and an embarrassment. to our country. We are built upon the very institutions these people are trying to ruin. This isn't what I ever imagined when I signed up to #MAGA. Had I know then that this is how it would end, I never would've joined," he said.
In a joint statement House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on President Trump to tell his supporters to leave the Capitol grounds immediately.
Several members of the House said they were told to get gas masks out from under their desks, and a law enforcement source told ABC News that shots were fired at one point inside the Capitol. The Associated Press confirmed that one person was shot at the Capitol. ABC News reported the person who was shot was a woman.
At one point, one Trump supporter got inside the Senate chambers and took to the dais to yell that Trump won the election.
ABC News reported just before 1:30 p.m. MT that the Senate chamber had been secured and that police were working to get the people who got inside the Capitol over to one location.
After Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol and forced the lockdowns and evacuations, and after one person was shot, Trump later tweeted that they should be peaceful.
“I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!” the president tweeted.
“The violence and destruction taking place at the US Capitol Must Stop and it Must Stop Now. Anyone involved must respect Law Enforcement officers and immediately leave the building,” Pence said in a tweet. “Peaceful protest is the right of every American but this attack on our Capitol will not be tolerated and those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
The National Guard and other federal law enforcement were being called in Wednesday afternoon to help.
“The D.C. Guard has been mobilized to provide support to federal law enforcement in the District. Acting Secretary Miller has been in contact with Congressional leadership, and Secretary McCarthy has been working with the D.C. government. The law enforcement response will be led by the Department of Justice,” said Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman.
By 6 p.m., members of the House and Senate were returning to their chambers to resume the electoral vote count, which will end with Joe Biden being declared the winner of the election.
Denver7's Meghan Lopez and Gary Brode contributed to this story.