Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she thought she was going to die during the rioting at the U.S. Capitol last week. During an Instagram live, the New York Democrat said she had a "very close encounter" when rioters breached security and stormed the Capitol, endangering the lives of lawmakers and staff inside.
Ocasio-Cortez started the Instagram live, which lasted more than an hour Tuesday, by saying she wanted to address questions viewers may have about the "incredibly violent, traumatizing week for so many people."
She went on to describe what she and other members of Congress went through last Wednesday. "The president, frankly, assisted by members of Congress, incited an attack on the U.S. Capitol," she said. "Frankly, he is a traitor to our country."
The representative went on to say "many, many, many members of Congress were almost murdered," and "many Congressional staffers were almost killed."
"Many children — children of members of Congress — children were there," Ocasio-Cortez said. She pointed to Rep. Jamie Raskin, whom she called her close friend. Raskin lost his son "tragically" just days before the attack, Ocasio-Cortez said. "His daughters were with him in the Capitol, days after that trauma, and they nearly lost their lives too," she said.
Ocasio-Cortez said she experienced a "pretty traumatizing event" during the riot, but didn't know if she could disclose details due to "security concerns."
"I can tell you that I had a very close encounter where I thought I was going to die," she said. "And you have all of those thoughts where, at the end of your life and all of these thoughts come rushing to you. And that's what happened to a lot of us on Wednesday."
"I did not know if I was going to make it to the end of that day alive," she said. "Not just in a general sense, but in a very, very specific sense."
She called the event an opportunity for people to talk about trauma, adding that there have been counselors and physicians in the House to talk to people after they've been exposed to trauma during the rioting. She said she has heard trauma described as "too much, too fast, too soon."
"For a lot of people, whether you are a service member, who served in our armed forces abroad, whether you are a person that maybe experienced domestic violence – any traumatizing event at all – Wednesday's events could have been very triggering for you," she said.
The congresswoman said those who feel unsettled after watching the riots should "go check in with someone."
"There's no shame in that. It's health care — mental health care," she said.
Ocasio-Cortez also said it is not an exaggeration to say many members of Congress could have been assassinated during Wednesday's events and many of them "narrowly escaped death."
She praised "heroic" members of the Capitol police. "There were also Black and brown officers that were confronting White supremacists," she said. "They put themselves in harm's way on the front line, facing the racist violence of White supremacists, ordered by Donald Trump to attack the Capitol."
She also accused some officers of acts of betrayal.
Ocasio-Cortez also called out two Republican senators: "Ted Cruz, you do not belong in the United States Senate. Josh Hawley, you do not belong in the United States Senate, so get out," Ocasio-Cortez said.
President Trump is being condemned for inciting the violence, with House Democrats introducing an article of impeachment against him on Monday.
The article of impeachment accuses the president of "willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States." While Congress was gathering to count the Electoral College votes, the article says that Mr. Trump, addressing supporters nearby, "willfully made statements that encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — imminent lawless action at the Capitol."
The bill, which was authored by Democratic Representatives Ted Lieu of California and David Cicilline of Rhode Island, with help from Raskin, has more than 210 cosponsors.
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