She recalled seeing pro-Trump forces rallying in Washington the Monday before the attack, and said she felt suspicious of their strength, an apparently lackluster security response, and the spear-tipped flags they were carrying. But, she said, later, near her parked car, she engaged with a pro-Trump crowd and tried to emotionally and intellectually disarm them and lighten the mood. But the whole time, she said, her heart was beating quickly as she considered the “spear-like instruments” they were holding.
“I just start blowing kisses at them,” she said, explaining her exit strategy via her electric vehicle. “Whatever. Just to create enough space for me to hit drive and — skrrt! — get out of there.”
“On Monday, we were already as members of Congress having heightened interactions with these people,” she said. “So anyone who tells you that we couldn’t have seen this coming is lying to you. Anyone who’s gone on the record and said there was no indication of violence has lied. There were so many indications of this leading up to that moment.”
Later Monday, she said, she went to the grocery store near her place in D.C., but found it full of people wearing MAGA hats, which created a tense situation.
On Tuesday, the day before the attack, she returned to the Capitol and saw MAGA forces had grown since Monday, to the point where it felt “actively volatile and dangerous.” After a day of congressional business, she returned to the Capitol the night before the attack to retrieve forgotten keys from her office and felt surveilled. She stopped at a grocery store to get her parking validated and again experienced high tension as she felt she could sense people mentally considering their options.
By Tuesday, she said, she had started removing the pin identifying her as a member of Congress and decided to avoid leaving the house again due to safety concerns.
Members of Congress had been asking about the security plan, she recalled. She said Capitol Police leadership told House administrators they had made plans but wouldn’t divulge them due to the potential for leaks, but asked members to arrive at 9:00 a.m. on January 6. She said this was an unusual protocol given that lawmakers can usually come and go at will and it would have been well before any votes.
The day of the attack
AOC said she carpooled to the Capitol complex with Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), another member of the Squad, on January 6. AOC’s staff had been working from home due to COVID-19, but for big votes, like the Electoral College certification, she had one staffer attend to escort her; in this case her legislative director, G, was there.
With some time to pass, AOC scheduled her second COVID-19 vaccine dose, which she got before returning to her office, where she hoped to order a “bangin’” lunch for G and herself. AOC’s chief of staff called to check in, and the congresswoman said her spirits were lifted on Wednesday morning by Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff’s Senate race wins, after she had spent the previous two days “sick to my stomach” with fear. She had returned to scrolling lunch options when she heard a loud knock on the doors of her office, “like someone was trying to break the door down.”
“There were no yells, no one saying who they were, nobody identifying themselves. Just, ‘Boom! Boom! Boom!’” she recalled, specifying this was just after 1 p.m. Around this time, according to a New York Times timeline, Congress would have just begun its joint session to certify the Electoral College votes. During the next hour, pro-Trump forces already outside the Capitol were joined by others who were coming from outside the White House after Trump’s speech, before the building was breached shortly after 2 p.m.