One of the most frightening aspects of the assault on the U.S. Capitol was how, well, normal some of the participants seemed—and how openly they spoke of their willingness to murder other Americans if President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory was certified.
The Daily Beast’s Will Sommer was outside the Capitol on Jan. 6 and described his conversations with the rioters to co-hosts Rick Wilson and Molly Jong-Fast on the latest episode of The New Abnormal.
“I was really struck by the people I talked to who were not necessarily crazed QAnon people... but kinda just like people you might think of as your neighbors, your grandparents,” Sommer said. “And almost to a person, they were all just like, ‘Well, if Joe Biden gets his votes certified today, there’s going to be violence and we’re going to kill people, and there’s gonna be a civil war.’”
Then, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) joined Wilson and Jong-Fast to talk about what happened after he was told to “take out a gas mask and get ready to duck” inside the Capitol.
For a while, Swalwell said, the reality of the danger just was not sinking in. “I still thought, there’s no way they’re coming in here—until the House chaplain went up to the podium where the president usually speaks for the State of the Union,” he said. “And she started offering a prayer and I thought, OK, they’re going to get in here. This is not good.”
Sommer said he was struck by the “huge amount of entitlement” among the MAGA rioters.
“I do feel like so much of the reaction, both from the rioters and the people who were there at the protest in general, was this shock that laws would apply to them,” he said. “A weird thing I heard a lot at the Capitol was this idea that if you pay taxes, you could just break into whatever federal building you feel like. And because your taxes in an indirect way pay for the Capitol Police that... you’re their boss.”
When the conversation shifted to President Donald Trump’s impeachment in the House, Wilson said more Republicans would have voted to impeach if the vote hadn’t been public. “One of the guys that voted in favor of impeachment told me… if it was a secret ballot, Trump would have been impeached with 50 percent or more of the caucus voting against him.”
“They’re fucking petrified,” Wilson said. “Well, guess what? You created this monster and you kept feeding it. You kept it in the basement. You hauled it out to vote every two years, but you kept feeding it and now it’s loose and it hates you more than it hates anything. I say this a lot: There’s nothing a Trump voter hates more than a Republican that doesn’t support Trump.”