Whispered, panicked calls from terrified staff members barricaded in an office. Violent scenes of broken windows and open doors. Frantic audio between the Capitol police.
On the second day of the impeachment trial, House impeachment officials showed senators never-before-seen security footage of Capitol Hill, offering a chilling portrait of the violence unleashed by the pro-Trump mob on Capitol Hill on January 6.
The new evidence was presented by delegate Stacey Plaskett from the Virgin Islands, who wrote a methodical account of the day, marking each new video with a time stamp. Representative Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California, continued the presentation.
At first, Ms. Plaskett recalled the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and reported that a plane was heading for the Capitol.
“Almost every day I remember 44 Americans giving their lives to stop the plane heading for this Capitol building,” said Plaskett, who was working as an aide at the time. “I thank them every day for saving my life and the lives of so many others. These Americans sacrificed their lives for the love of the country, the honor, the duty, whatever America means. The Capitol is because of people like that.
As each new video and audio clip was introduced, a map of the Capitol remained in the lower corner of the screen, where a red dot traced the progress of rioters through the building while more violent footage twinkled on the screen.
In one scene, Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney walked down a hallway where he encountered Eugene Goodman, a Capitol Police officer, who appeared to be warning him of the rioting progress. Mr. Romney burst into a race.
Security footage from inside the Capitol showed that crowds first smashed windows to break through the building, before turning to other doors to open them from inside, as rioters poured in. Ms Plaskett recalled the threats that rioters had publicly made against the lives of President Nancy Pelosi of California and Vice President Mike Pence.
“They were talking about assassinating the Vice President of the United States,” Ms. Plaskett said. She added that Mr Pence and his family never left the Capitol during the siege.
After playing out scenes of lawmakers and their staff rushing to safety, Ms Plaskett played audio of terrified staff members from Ms Pelosi’s office, who were barricaded in a room.
“We need the Capitol Police to get into the hallway,” one said, whispering into a phone in the hope that the rioters outside wouldn’t hear.
Mr Swalwell presented perhaps the most gruesome video, depicting the moment Ashli Babbitt, one of the rioters, was killed, warning viewers before playing the clip that it would be graphic.
As impeachment officials released unseen videos and recordings of Capitol Police radio communications on January 6, senators on both sides sat in deep silence. Many have strived to have a better view. In the back row on the Democratic side, Senators Mark Warner of Virginia and Michael Bennet of Colorado stood up to watch.
On the Republican side, the senators showed little emotion but were very attentive. Many have turned their heads away from the video screens to take notes.