Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Katie Porter Describe Hiding Together for Hours During Capitol Riots
Ocasio-Cortez said that she feared she was "going to die" during the attack, which occurred on a day that began much like any other
Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Katie Porter on Monday offered startling firsthand accounts of their time in hiding together during the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riots by a mob of Donald Trump supporters.
Recounting her experience in a widely watched video on Instagram Live, Ocasio-Cortez, 31, said that she feared she was "going to die" during the attack, which occurred on a day that began much like any other.
After carpooling to the Capitol complex with fellow Democratic lawmaker and "squad" member Ayanna Pressley, Ocasio-Cortez said she got to her office around 9:30 a.m, she said. She was joined by just one aide, as most of her staffers were working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
By 1 p.m., Ocasio-Cortez was alone and scrolling on her computer for lunch options when she suddenly heard "huge, violent bangs on my door and every door going into my office ... like someone was trying to break the door down," she said.
After hiding inside her office bathroom, Ocasio-Cortez decided a closet would be a better place to hide, opening the door in preparation to run.
"And so I open the door, when all of a sudden I hear that whoever was trying to get inside got in to my office," she said. "And then I realize that it's too late for me to get into the closet — and so I go back in and hide back in in the bathroom, behind the door. And then I just start to hear these yells of 'Where is she? Where is she?' "
She continued: "And I just thought to myself, 'They got inside' ... I mean, I thought I was going to die."
Looking through the door hinge, the New York congresswoman recalled how she saw a "white man in a black beanie" come inside her office and continue shouting, "Where is she?"
Moments later, she said, her staffer yelled at her to come out, at which point she realized the man in the beanie was a Capitol Police officer, though he had not identified himself as such.
At the officer's direction, Ocasio-Cortez said she then ran to another building nearby, where she made her way to Porter's office.
"I am at a full 10 — fight or flight, thought I was going to die 10 minutes ago," Ocasio-Cortez said, adding that she was flinging open doors in Porter's office while the California representative was trying to catch up on the events that were still unfolding.
Porter, 47, expanded on that account in a Monday interview with MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, underlining the chaos and adrenaline and uncertainty of that day.
"Alex is really usually unfailingly polite and very personable and she wasn't even really talking to me," Porter told O'Donnell. "She was opening up doors and I was like, 'Can I help you? What are you looking for?' And she said, "I'm looking for where I'm going to hide.' "
Porter continued: "The thing that will always stay with me ... I was saying: 'Well, don't worry, I'm a mom, I'm calm, I've got everything here we need. We could live for like a month in this office.' And she said, 'I just hope I get to be a mom. I hope I don't die today.' "
According to Porter, Ocasio-Cortez lamented her choice in footwear, not expecting such an assault: "I knew I shouldn't have worn heels. How am I going to run?"
Eventually, they found Ocasio-Cortez a pair of sneakers to borrow in case "she needed to literally run for her life," Porter said.
In her MSNBC interview, Porter said that the entire experience lasted roughly six hours, during which law enforcement — who have since been heavily criticized for their response to the Capitol being stormed — never checked in on the lawmakers, who kept their curtains closed, silenced all their mobile devices and sat quietly until they knew it was safe to exit.
Five people died in connection with the riots, including a police officer.
"There was no communication," Porter said. "No one came to check on us. The Capitol Police never accounted for every member's safety."
In her own video on Instagram, Ocasio-Cortez also hit back at critics who have said lawmakers now need to "move on" from the events of Jan. 6.
"These are the same tactics of abusers," she said, going on to reveal that "I'm a survivor of sexual assault and I haven't told many people that in my life. But when we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other."
"So, whether you had a neglectful parent or you had someone who was verbally abusive to you, whether you are a survivor of abuse, whether you experience any sort of trauma ... these episodes can compound on one another," she said.
Ocasio-Cortez later responded to those who criticized her experience because her and Porters' offices are not in the Capitol proper but rather in a nearby building that is part of the larger complex.
She called the response manipulative and said the threat was broader than the Capitol building itself.
Ocasio-Cortez, a prominent member of the Democratic Party's progressive wing and a frequent target of Republicans, has become increasingly vocal and critical of what she describes as the more "extremist" elements of the GOP: those who fueled baseless claims that the results of the 2020 presidential election were fraudulent in the weeks surrounding the attack on the Capitol.
In a recent exchange on Twitter, she accused Texas Sen. Ted Cruz of "almost" having her "murdered," a reference to the insurrection. (He said in response her comments were "partisan anger" that is "not healthy for our country.")
In her Instagram Live, Ocasio-Cortez-Cortez said that lawmakers like Cruz, Josh Hawley, and Mo Brooks (all of whom contested the results of the election that Trump lost "remain a present danger," because they haven't apologized for their role in spreading the false fraud claims that fueled the Trump supporters.
She has said that both Cruz and Hawley should resign.