As rioters roamed about the Senate floor on January 6, a clutch of fellow insurrectionists stood at a lawmaker’s desk, rifling through a binder filled with official documents.
A man wearing a backpack and an olive-green military style helmet points to a section and tells the group he believes it shows proof that Republican Sen. Ted Cruz had been baldly lying to Trump supporters about his intentions.
“Look—‘Objection to counting the electoral votes of the State of Arizona,’” the man says, adding, “He was gonna sell us out all along.”
“Wait no, that’s a good thing! That’s a good thing!” a man in a MAGA hat assures the man in the helmet. “He’s with us, he’s with us.” (Cruz did, indeed, vote to object to the certification of Arizona’s electoral votes.)
As the group moves on, two men hang back and continue searching the binder.
“There’s gotta be something in here we can fucking use against these scumbags,” one mutters to himself, ripping out a handful of loose papers and zeroing in on one. “This is a good one, him and Hawley or whatever. Hawley, Cruz.”
“Hawley, Cruz?” says the second man. “I think Cruz would want us to do this... So I think we’re good.”
The bizarre scene plays out in video footage captured by New Yorker reporter Luke Mogelson, who documented the recent attempted sacking of the Capitol from the inside, on his phone. Although it was not originally meant for publication, the twelve-and-a-half-minute video provides a striking account of what the magazine describes as “an eerily quiet and surreal interlude inside the Senate chamber” following the initial breach of the Capitol building itself.
In a statement to The Daily Beast, a spokesperson for Sen. Cruz wrote: “As Sen. Cruz has said repeatedly, the terrorist attack on the Capitol was reprehensible, and the criminals who carried out the attack should be fully prosecuted. He has been clear, consistent, and unequivocal: violence is always wrong—whether from Left or Right—and violent criminals should go to jail for a very long time.”
Mogelson’s video begins amid the crowd as the MAGA mob storms the building, appearing to overwhelm Capitol police officers.
“Fuck you, police!” screams one.
They enter the building, where one rioter tells several Capitol cops trying to hold them back, “You’re outnumbered, there’s a fucking million of us out there. And we are listening to Trump, your boss.”
“Treason, treason, treason!” a group chants as they climb a grand interior staircase.
“Where’s fucking Nancy Pelosi?” someone yells. “Where the fuck is Nancy?”
“You afraid of Antifa? Well, guess what? America showed up!” shouts another.
Back on the Senate floor, a Capitol police officer politely asks, “Any chance I could get you guys to leave the Senate wing?” as fur-clad rioter Jacob Chansley, known to fellow travelers as the “Q Shaman,” makes himself at home at a desk reserved for Vice President Mike Pence, president of the upper legislative chamber.
“We will, I been making sure they ain’t disrespecting the place,” replies an off-camera voice with a thick southern accent, amidst the ongoing defilement of the Senate floor.
“Okay, I just wanna let you guys know, this is like the sacredest place,” the Capitol cop pleads.
“I know, I’m gonna take a sit in this chair, ’cause Mike Pence is a fucking traitor,” Chansley replies.
He then asks a rioter in a MAGA hat to take a picture of him in Pence’s seat as the cop stands by, helplessly.
“You should be stopping us,” one of them says to the officer.
“One, two, three, four, five,” the cop responds, pointing to the five rioters standing before him, then points to himself. “One.”
After Chansley gets his photo, the cop asks the five men to leave. Moments later, the room is overrun.