As he sheltered in place, Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, said Wednesday he was in complete shock that the U.S. Capitol was besieged by a mob seeking to block Congress from affirming Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.
“I never thought I would live to see the day when the Capitol of the United States would be invaded by what could be potentially thought of as domestic terrorists,” Lowenthal told City News Service. “It was very frightening.”
The congressman said the assault on the Capitol was no peaceful protest, as the mob broke windows and pushed past overwhelmed police.
“It was unbelievable — felt like a coup in a third-world country,” Lowenthal said, adding that he and others inside the building rushed to find safety as “all hell broke loose.”
He did not disclose his exact location, but said he was safe Wednesday afternoon and had been evacuated from his first-floor office in Cannon House, where he was when the unrest began, watching both on television and outside his window as he turned off the lights and hid.
“I was told they couldn’t ensure our safety (in Cannon House),” Lowenthal said, noting that he was also asked to have his gas mask ready — just in case. “I said, `Where is my gas mask?’ I didn’t know I had one.”
Prior to the attack, thousands of people gathered to hear President Donald Trump speak outside the White House, during which he recited a litany of alleged acts of fraud impacting Nov. 3 election results — allegations that have repeatedly rejected in court due to lack of evidence. He alleged similar fraud had undermined Tuesday’s Senate runoff elections in Georgia. Election officials across the country, including Republican election leaders in Georgia, have flatly denied any irregularities in the vote.
After the speech, the president’s supporters marched on the Capitol Building, where members of Congress were debating Electoral College votes from Arizona, one of the swing states in which fraud has been alleged by the president’s attorneys.
Lowenthal said it’s a “repeated lie that the election was stolen.” He called the whole affair a setback for the country, adding, “I thought that after 9/11 it was a tremendous shock to be invaded from the outside, and this being invaded by the inside is shocking too.”
He added: “Democracy is stronger than any individual or mob. We are going to do what the Constitution calls for us to do and take the results and declare who is the victor. That victor will be President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect (Kamala) Harris to ensure we have an inauguration Jan. 20 … We are going to do it regardless of a mob breaking into the Capitol.”
He said it is critically important that Congress carry through with certifying the results as soon as it is safe to do so.
“This is a frightening thing for Democracy,” he said. “People watched this attack on the U.S. Capitol and … this was unheard of, and we are going to pay a price for that. We have to reestablish who we are.”
On Twitter, Lowenthal thanked the Capitol police for their service and called the day’s events an embarrassment for the country.
“There is no way to hide the fact that the president is responsible for this chaos, and must order his supporters to leave. He lost the election, fairly and legally. We will not be terrorized. Democracy is stronger than any of us.”