Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez excoriated her Republican colleagues during an Instagram Live on Tuesday night, and shared some of her shocking experience during last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C. by Trump supporters and violent insurrectionists.
Instagram Live is a regular forum for the New York congresswoman to connect with voters. In her first broadcast since the attack, she prefaced a Q&A with a furious monologue in which she described how she “thought [she] was going to die” during an incident in the hours where the Capitol was overrun with MAGA rioters — some of whom have since been charged with domestic terrorism.
“Wednesday was an extremely traumatizing event. And it was not an exaggeration to say that many members of the House were nearly assassinated,” Ocasio-Cortez said. While she didn’t share further details of the “very close encounter” due to security concerns, she told viewers: “I did not know if I was going to make it to the end of that day alive.”
Reports in the days since the attack have revealed that many of the attackers’ goals went beyond delaying the vote to certify the election results, to potentially harming lawmakers. Many chanted “Hang Mike Pence” after the Vice-President informed President Trump that he could not override the certification of Joe Biden’s victory. Some who breached the Senate chamber were photographed carrying zip ties of the kind used as restraints; improved incendiary devices including Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs were also found in the area and in vehicles. The chief of staff for Rep. Ayanna Pressley — along with AOC, a member of “the Squad” of congresswomen of color — said that in the congresswoman’s office during the attack they found all its panic buttons had been “torn out.”
Ocasio-Cortez also told her Instagram audience that she didn’t feel safe around other members of Congress, as she was concerned some of them “would create opportunities to allow me to be hurt, kidnapped, et cetera,” by revealing her location to the attackers.
“I have a message for anyone who is resigning after Wednesday: Too late. Too late,” she said, name checking just-departed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, among others. “You were a part of it.”
And she also had stark words for Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, who spearheaded the push to overturn the election results in D.C. on Jan. 6: “You do not belong in the United States Senate,” she said, pointing out that their actions were likely driven by the desire to shore up Trump’s base for their own potential presidential runs.
“This is about if they wanna be president in 2024. Lemme give you a sneak peek: You will never be president. You will never command the respect of this country. Never. Never. And you should resign. So should every member of Congress who voted to overturn the results of our election, because they would rather cling to power than respect our democracy.”
“This is how democracy can burn. It is fragile. We must cherish it. And they didn’t. And they don’t. So they need to leave. Donald Trump needs to leave. Ted Cruz needs to leave. Josh Hawley needs to get out. They need to get. out.” – @AOC pic.twitter.com/KB6n8V656f
— marisa kabas (@MarisaKabas) January 13, 2021
In the Q&A session following her initial comments, Ocasio-Cortez promised that stimulus checks and “real” COVID relief packages were still a priority alongside impeachment proceedings, and also answered questions about her own “healing”.
“I think I’m still figuring it out — so far I’m just trying to give myself a lot of rest,” she said, adding that she intends to speak to a counselor to help her work through her response to the trauma. “So many people in our country have lost a loved one to COVID, and the trauma of this past year has just impacted, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was millions of people [who] have been traumatized in this last year alone. If I want to be a good leader, and set a good example, I have to show that I’m willing to do the steps that I think everyone should be willing to do.”