Jason Crow’s concern grew into shock as he realized there was no way out.
The U.S. representative for parts of the south, east and north Denver metro area was holed up in the House chamber along with two dozen other House members as a mob railing against the November presidential election results surrounded the room lawmakers were hiding in at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
“I made a decision to call my wife and tell her I loved her,” said Crow, a Democrat from Aurora, who at that moment was “prepared to fight.”
Crow, a former Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, helped check the locks in the room as authorities barricaded doors with furniture.
The situation was direr than it may have seemed even from his vantage point: Long guns, Molotov cocktails, explosive devices and zip ties were recovered amid the chaotic scene, “which suggests a greater disaster was narrowly averted,” according to a summary of a conversation between Crow and Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy released by Crow’s office Jan. 10.
After about a half hour of being trapped amid the chaos, a SWAT team arrived to clear the area, and Crow was able to exit the chamber around 2:15 p.m., he said.
At least 25 domestic terrorism cases had been opened as a result of the attack on the Capitol, according to the Army secretary’s conversation with Crow.
The crowds “broke windows and doors, ransacked offices, threatened the safety of (Congress) members and staff, and ultimately gained unfettered control of the Senate floor,” said a letter Crow and more than 100 other Congressmembers sent to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. “After seizing control of the Capitol, the terrorists were able to maintain control for hours before exiting at their own accord.”
The chaos at the Capitol broke out during the debate in Congress over whether to certify the Electoral College results that showed Joe Biden won the presidency. Crow had come to observe the debate and hoped to speak later in the day.
President Donald Trump encouraged his Twitter and Facebook followers to attend a Jan. 6 rally — minutes before crowds stormed the Capitol, Trump continued to argue for overturning the election in front of the crowd in a speech laced with conspiracy theories, the Associated Press reported.
Following the president’s remarks, the mob outside of the White House moved to the Capitol Complex and joined with protesters outside of the Capitol, and shortly after, the mob moved on the Capitol building and congressional office buildings, the letter to the Government Accountability Office said.
The president and allies had filed 62 lawsuits in state and federal courts seeking to overturn election results in states the president lost, USA Today reported as of Jan. 6. Out of those, 61 had failed, according to Marc Elias, a Democratic election lawyer who is tracking the outcomes, USA Today cited.
Then-Attorney General William Barr declared that the U.S. Justice Department had uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the election, the AP reported Dec. 1.
Crow expressed concern about the winds that whipped up crowds that attacked the Capitol, nodding to the fracturing of common acceptance of information across political lines.
“I think we’re not dealing with a political movement — this was a domestic terrorist threat,” Crow said, adding that he believes the threat will continue. “Many of these people have become radicalized. They exist in an (alternate) factual universe.”
“We have a very difficult challenge” ahead as the Biden administration unfolds, Crow said.
Crow on Jan. 11 voiced support for removing Trump from office, either by impeachment or by another constitutional method of halting Trump’s term.
“The president is a dangerous person — extremely unstable — and so long as he’s in the White House the next 10 days, he’s a danger to the American people and our national security,” Crow said. “My hope would be that the vice president and the Cabinet would invoke the 25th amendment to remove him from office, although I’m not holding my breath.”
The Cabinet includes the heads of major federal agencies, such as the Department of Justice and Department of Defense.
The 25th Amendment allows for the vice president and a majority of the president’s Cabinet to declare a president unfit for office. The vice president then becomes acting president. In that case, the issue could ultimately be decided by Congress.
Separate from that process, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, a Democrat of Denver, and others introduced legislation on Jan. 11 to impeach the president for a second time, accusing him of “inciting an insurrection” at the Capitol, according to a news release.
“I think we need to move forward with impeachment,” Crow said, while noting that he doesn’t believe the Senate would be able to move forward with an impeachment trial in such a short time.
Colorado’s 6th Congressional District, which Crow represents, includes Aurora, Centennial, Littleton, Highlands Ranch, Brighton, part of Thornton and nearby areas.