In mob’s eyeline: senior Republican’s close brush revealed in new J6 footage

Source: Politico | March 15, 2023 | Kyle Cheney and Jordain Carney

In the mob’s eyeline: A senior Republican’s close brush revealed in new Jan. 6 footage

“I wasn’t aware of any of it,” Sen. Chuck Grassley — third in line for the presidency at the time — said of his apparent encounter.

Newly released video of the Capitol attack shows just how close rioters came to a senior GOP senator who was third in line for the presidency on Jan. 6, 2021.

The footage, released after media requests to access videos used in connection with a Jan. 6 criminal case, shows the apparent evacuation of Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) from the Senate chamber as a uniformed officer separates him and his security detail from the first wave of rioters who had breached the building. Those rioters were led by Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola, who used a riot shield to shatter a Senate window and ignite the breach of the building near the chamber.

Grassley’s caught-on-tape proximity to the pro-Trump rioters adds new dissonance to Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s on-air minimization of the siege — a portrayal that palpably split Senate and House Republicans.

The video, taken by a rioter who entered the Capitol moments after the breach and released in a case separate from Pezzola’s, shows the Proud Boy gazing past the police officer at the evacuating senator, though it’s unclear if he recognized Grassley. As the camera pans, Pezzola is shown speaking on his phone before turning away from the scene.

That first wave of the mob — which also included Jacob Chansley, known as the “QAnon Shaman” — would moments later follow Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman up a flight of stairs to come within feet of the Senate chamber in a now-famous confrontation.

The footage is the latest example of how close powerful government figures came to a direct brush with the mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters. Rioters came within 40 feet of then-Vice President Mike Pence during his own evacuation, according to evidence released by the Jan. 6 select committee. And then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, accompanied by his own security detail, came within sight of rioter Joshua Pruitt while waiting for an elevator.

“The security detail and Senator Schumer reversed course and ran away from the elevator, back down the ramp, away from Pruitt,” according to a “statement of facts” agreed to by prosecutors and Pruitt in connection with his plea deal.


Grassley told POLITICO that he couldn’t remember many details about the rushed evacuation, noting that he was taken down a back staircase to the first floor of the Capitol — where the footage shows he unknowingly had that close brush with rioters — and then down another staircase to the basement. Grassley’s office declined to comment but did not dispute that the footage appeared to show the 89-year-old senator’s swift exit from the Senate.

“I wasn’t aware of any of it,” Grassley said of his apparent near-encounter. “They just said: ‘We’ve got to get you out of here.’”

The footage also underscores the possibility of more significant revelations about Jan. 6 sitting in the thousands of hours of security camera video that Speaker Kevin McCarthy has indicated he intends to release publicly, after providing early access to Carlson.


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