Rioters who broke into the US Capitol last week, many of them enraged at Vice President Mike Pence, came within 100 feet of him and his family during the mayhem, according to a Friday report.
In an angry speech before the assault, US President Donald Trump urged his supporters to march to the Capitol and demand that Pence, who was leading a joint session of Congress on certifying Joe Biden’s victory, intervene to reverse his election defeat — an act not within Pence’s powers.
Some Trump supporters, furious over Pence’s refusal, were chanting that he was a traitor and should be hanged during the riot.
Pence was not evacuated from the Senate chamber until around 14 minutes after Capitol Police first reported intruders breaking into the complex, The Washington Post reported.
The delay allowed the intruders to get near his location in the building. Secret Service members evacuated Pence, along with his wife and daughter, to a room off the Senate floor as the rioters breached the first floor underneath the Senate chamber, the report said.
Around one minute after Pence left the Senate chamber, the rioters made their way upstairs to a landing on the heels of a Capitol Police officer, who appeared to lure them away from the Senate. The officer, later identified as Eugene Goodman, has been hailed as a hero for confronting the mob alone and leading them away from lawmakers.
Here’s the scary moment when protesters initially got into the building from the first floor and made their way outside Senate chamber. pic.twitter.com/CfVIBsgywK
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) January 6, 2021
Pence was hiding in a room less than 100 feet away from the landing, and the rioters could have seen him if they had arrived at the landing seconds earlier, said the report, which was based on video evidence and testimony from law enforcement officials.
Pence was later moved to a safer location in the Capitol complex during the riot, but it’s unclear exactly when.
One prominent rioter who allegedly threatened Pence was, Jacob Chansley, who calls himself the “QAnon Shaman” and was seen at the riot shirtless, with his face painted and wearing a fur hat with horns, carrying a US flag attached to a wooden pole topped with a spear.
Prosecutors in the case against Chansley said he climbed up to the dais where Pence had been presiding moments earlier and wrote a note to Pence that said, “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”
Pence and Trump did not speak for days after the January 6 riot. They met on Monday in the Oval Office and on Tuesday Pence rejected invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.
The Capitol Police has come under heavy criticism for its failure to stop the mob from breaking into the complex. Some officers were severely beaten by intruders and one officer died of injuries sustained during the attack. One rioter was killed by police and three others died of medical emergencies.
Trump was impeached on Wednesday and charged by the House of Representatives with “incitement to insurrection” for his role igniting the riot. He is the only president in US history to be impeached twice.
Trump will leave the White House for Florida on the day of Biden’s inauguration. He will break with tradition by refusing to participate in the ceremonial transfer of power by attending the inauguration ceremony and meeting with Biden.
Washington is under a security lockdown with thousands of National Guard troops girding for the possibility of further violence surrounding the inauguration.