And then my colleague Jake Sherman starts bugging me. He [says] there’s a problem with a security fence outside. You can’t hear anything in the chamber, so I go outside. And once I get outside the chamber, you can hear the crowd. I ran down to the second floor of the Rotunda, and the sound was overwhelming. There were hundreds of people pounding on the door from the east side of the Capitol. There were cops rushing up to the door, and they started screaming at us to get out of here. I went up to the third floor. That’s where I could see [the protesters] banging on the door. It seemed like they had tools—like iron rods or something. They were prepared to try to break windows. I mean, these are bombproof windows on the east side of the Capitol, and these doors. They had to be prepared to do that.
Dovere: [The Capitol police] removed everybody from the chamber. They removed the reporters to a safe location.
Bresnahan: I had left the chamber. And by the time I left the Rotunda, they had sealed the members and reporters inside the chamber ... I couldn’t get back in, so I went into my press gallery, where all the reporters who work out of the Capitol work. And [from there], I was actually able to access the catwalk above the Statuary Hall, where all reporters and members of Congress do interviews right after the State of the Union.
So I was up like a half-floor above these people, and I could see them coming into Statuary Hall. And there were no cops. I didn’t see any cops. I sat there and watched the whole thing. First you’d see a couple of protesters. It was a trickle, and then a flood of people. They were walking from the center of the Capitol—the Rotunda—and they were walking toward the House on the south side. They were trying to get into the House. You could hear them banging on the doors. At that point inside the chamber, police officers had pulled guns, and they were going to shoot anybody trying to get in the House floor. Because the members were still on the floor.
But I was actually down there, so I could watch what was happening from the outside. My viewing point was probably one of the better ones for the reporters inside the building, because I wasn’t locked down at that point. I was there for at least an hour. These protesters come into Statuary Hall, where there’s a statue of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King ...
Dovere: Right, that’s the original House chamber. It’s not just a room; there’s history there.
Bresnahan: Exactly. Some of them were taking selfies with the statues like they were tourists. Others—it was strange, I saw this woman pull out documents, and she starts giving a speech. She clearly had people with her. They formed this crowd, and they were filming it. She was reading a speech about the Constitution, clearly doing something for social media. That was the other thing: You could see they were all putting stuff on social media.