On Wednesday afternoon, Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York was watching the debate to finalize Joe Biden’s election as president of the United States when everything changed.
“We are doing our work, we were debating,” she told Yahoo Finance during a telephone interview Wednesday evening while locked in her Capitol Hill office as first responders continued to root out pro-Trump rioters.
The violence, during which one person was fatally shot, began when President Donald Trump directed the crowd to march to the Capitol to protest on behalf of his unsubstantiated claims of election fraud. Hundreds of pro-Trump rioters followed his lead and briefly overran the building.
Maloney, chairperson of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, watched the events unfold in real-time.
“Chaos was breaking out on the floor,” Maloney recounted. “It was disturbing to see desks pushed up against the doors to keep [rioters] out.”
“It's beyond belief and devastatingly disruptive, and I've never been so upset,” she added.
Her office is across the street from the Capitol and, as such, she was also able to view the hours of response directly from her office once she was she sheltered in place.
“There have been sort of groups of police officers moving into the Capitol, sort of moving in precision. Say roughly 30 at a time,” she said. “There was a lot of smoke coming out from the Capitol. I don't know what that was or where it came from.”
“Since 9/11, I've participated in many Capitol Hill security drills that involve shelter-in-place and donning protective gear, but I never dreamed I'd have to do it for real because of terrorism inspired by the President of the United States,” Maloney said.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi later announced her plan to “proceed [with the vote] tonight at the Capitol once it is cleared for use.”
Maloney, whose district includes parts of Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn, supported the plan, noting, “We came to work today knowing that we would stay here until the proceedings ended.”
Ben Werschkul is a writer and producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.