Earlier this week we noted an interview for The Get More Smarter Podcast with Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora).
In the interview with hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii, Crow discussed the events of January 6; his confrontation with a fellow House Member the morning before the attack; how Crow explains last week’s events to his children; and why impeaching President Trump was unavoidable after he incited an insurrection.
You can listen to the full 15-minute interview below. After the jump, we have included a transcription of Crow’s comments.
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Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) on The Get More Smarter Podcast (1/12/21):
Crow discusses the events of Jan. 6, including an interesting confrontation with a fellow lawmaker the morning before the attack on the Capitol:
CROW: There was tension leading up to that debate, on the objections, for obvious reasons. We knew that there was going to be a rally. We saw the news reports about the threat and violence, the riots.
I got up early that day and went to the gym like I normally do — the Member’s gym. And I actually got into a debate, a pretty heated debate, with one of my colleagues…my Republican colleagues, about the objection. He was going to object later that day. And, you know, I kind of confronted him about it. I told him that it was going to lead to violence, and that this furthers the fervor and advances the conspiracy movements, and I said, ‘This is going to get ugly today.’ And he was convinced that it wouldn’t. And he said, ‘Oh, if there’s violence, then it will be stopped by Trump supporters.’ And I said, ‘You’re deluding yourself.’ So we kind of debated for 15, 20 minutes. That was that morning.
On the moments before and after the Capitol siege:
CROW: I was sitting in the gallery. I got to the gallery around 12:45. The proceedings were gaveled in around 1:00, and the debate was proceeding through 1:00, 1:30. All of us — there was about two dozen members who were up there with me — we were watching on our phones the crowd as it came to the Capitol and sort of started to clash with the police. And I just remember the thought crossing my mind, I said, ‘Wow, the crowd is so much larger than the number of police out there. I just don’t know how they’re going to hold them back if this continues.’
Lo and behold, a few minutes later we saw that they were breaking through that outer cordon. Things really started to move fast after that. Within minutes we heard that they were coming to the Capitol — the mob was descending on the Capitol. Security came in and whisked away leadership…Mr. Hoyer, and Speaker Pelosi, and McCarthy, and the rest.
Then we got word that they had breached the Capitol, and they asked us to get our emergency gas masks out because they were deploying tear gas in the Capitol. That’s when I knew that they had lost control. That the crowd was in the Capitol. Most of the [police] officers were on the outside. They had been overwhelmed, and there weren’t many left on the inside. If they were deploying tear gas in the Capitol and asking us to put our masks on, I knew that the plan had unraveled, if there had been one.
They evacuated the Members on the floor, but there was still two dozen of us up in the gallery. It became obvious to us that they had essentially forgotten that there were Members up in the gallery, because they were so focused on the Members on the floor. It was at that point that Diana, actually, Diana DeGette, yelled out, ‘What about us?’ as they were finalizing the evacuations of Members on the floor.
The next thing I saw was just still shocking to me. As we were getting our masks and I was helping the other Members get our masks on, I looked over and saw that the Capitol Police were locking us in the chamber. That they were closing all of the doors and locking [them], and they were starting to take furniture and stack it up against the doors — to barricade us inside. It was at that point that I knew that we were trapped — there was no way out, and that the mob had encircled us.
So I called my wife. I made a decision to call my wife. I told her that I loved her, and to tell the kids that as well, and that I was either going to have to make a stand or fight our way out, and that I would let her know when I made it to safety.
Then I kind of immediately got into ‘combat mode,’ or ‘Ranger mode’ as I sometimes say. [NOTE: Crow is a former Army Ranger] And I just started to go down a checklist of what I needed to do. So, I helped the Members get their masks ready. I went and checked the doors. There were far more doors than there were officers. Probably a dozen officers that were in there with us. I went and checked on all the doors to make sure they were locked. I moved all the Members to a defensive position — got them all together away from the doors. I asked them to remove their pins, because if we had to fight and people had to move through the mob, I didn’t want them easily identifiable to the mob. I was looking for whatever weapons I could use, and there was a moment where I actually thought of — I was going to ask one of the officers for his gun. Because I didn’t know whether or not he was capable of using it. And I don’t mean in terms of training, I mean that those of us who have been in combat know that some people, at that moment, just can’t do it. But I know that I can, and I wasn’t going to allow harm to come to my colleagues. I decided not to [ask for a gun]. We were trapped there for about a half-hour until finally an emergency response team, a SWAT Team, was able to charge through the mob and clear a path for us.
We opened up one of the doors and rushed through. I saw members of the mob, rioters, being held at bay, by the SWAT Team. They took us down the stairs and through the tunnels to safety. So all of that was about an hour long.
On how he explained the events of Jan. 6 to his children:
CROW: Um, I still am working through that, actually. I have a seven year old and a ten year old. My seven year old hasn’t quite grasped what is happening. Obviously, we’re giving her less information. My ten year old gets it, and we’re having a bit more challenge dealing with it now. Needless to say, we’re having a lot of family sleepovers now. But you have to be honest with them — you can’t be dishonest, because kids will figure it out — but I’m also not going to give the full story to them at this point. That will come with time.
On how we avoided an even greater tragedy on Jan. 6:
CROW: I think we got lucky, which is not a great answer. I think we very, very narrowly averted a much greater disaster. And that’s why, frankly, I kind of bristle…there are memes going around, joking about the “QAnon Shaman,” and jokes, video clips of these younger folks saying, ‘Oh, I was pepper sprayed,’ and people kind of making light of it.
There were some exceptionally dangerous people in that riot that wanted to kill us. And they would have, had they been given the opportunity. That’s pretty clear at this point. They had the means, they had the intent, and they came very, very close. They came within two inches of wooden door between us and them. They were trying to batter down the doors as we were holding them. This was a catastrophic security failure, but it could have been far, far worse, in terms of loss of life.
But I have to give some props to the officers. What I saw was just incredible bravery. People, officers that were put into an untenable situation, that were willing to give up their lives. They were doing everything possible to hold back the mob under just terrible circumstances, that just did their job admirably. Now, what we are going to see is we are also going to see some folks that were derelict in their duty. We’re already seeing that. We will bring those folks to justice, appropriately, but we will also uphold the bravery and the courage of those who did their job under terrible circumstances.
On impeaching President Trump for “inciting an insurrection”:
CROW: I don’t think we have a choice. First of all, those who brought us to this point have no credibility on what’s divisive or what’s unifying or not. They’ve had no credibility for a long time, because they brought us here. This is not a story in my book about Donald Trump. Because we know Donald Trump. We’ve known him for a very, very long time. He has shown us over, and over, and over again, who he is. He is a violent man. He is an unstable man. He’s not fit to be the President in many different ways. And he’s shown us that for a long time. That’s why a year ago I helped prosecute the case to remove him then, because I knew who he was.
To me, the story is more about the enablers at this point. You know, those Members of Congress, the inner circle, the cabinet members who should know better. Who also had the same information that I had, and could have arrived at the same judgment, if they were really putting their self-interest and their own political and power ambitions aside — and looking at this with clarity and pure motivations. They would have arrived at the same conclusion. That’s what this is about.
So they still have that chance, and I’ve said over and over again that it wasn’t too late. Well, it’s too late to unwind what happened on Wednesday, but it’s never too late to do the right thing. I’m still an optimistic person. I don’t think I’m naive. I’m not holding my breath that many of them are going to cross over, but I’m optimistic that people can still do the right thing, and I think that we will see some of them do that, and we will hold up that courage as well — to promote it.
But, yeah, I don’t think we have a choice. We have to show that this will not stand. We have to send a message to the world, we have to send a message to our democracy, to the American people — to law-abiding, good American people — that want to see the restoration of order. But we also have to send a message to the insurrectionists that you will not win. You will never win. We will beat you. And it will start with the impeachment of Donald Trump.
Regarding Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Rifle), who has been accused of helping to incite the insurrection at the Capitol:
CROW: Yeah, there’s no doubt in my mind that she helped incite this and bears some responsibility for it. She brought dishonor on the State of Colorado and the country and the third congressional district. There’s no doubt about that. And I also don’t think that she’s going to change. She’s shown us who she is, and continues to, to this day. So, we are looking at options. There’s obviously a wide range of options, from ethics investigations, to censure, to expulsion, and I’m doing that analysis with my colleagues now to see what’s appropriate.
On the lesson to be learned from the attack on the Capitol:
CROW: You know, I’ve thought a lot about this and I don’t have the answers yet, but I’m just going to give you a glimpse of where my mind is at now. I don’t have any conclusions yet, but this is the thought process that I’m going through right now. And I’m obviously still dealing with this on my own terms — the trauma on its own terms. I’m trying to think about, how much of my own thought process is being impacted by that as well — because everybody is impacted by trauma, and everybody is impacted differently. But I have to lead. I have an obligation to lead now. And the danger is far from over. We saw the birth of a domestic terrorist organization this past week that is real, it’s big, and poses big dangers to our domestic security. And we’re going to have to deal with it in the years ahead, so I have to be clear-eyed and clear of thought. The thing that I’m struggling with is how do I deal with those colleagues that represent 45, 46 percent of America that supported Donald Trump.
And there’s different groups of people. There’s the insurrectionists, there’s violent people, which is a subset of that, but there are other folks who are very frustrated and they’re very disenchanted, and I don’t think the answer is to shut them out, because that would just further this tribalism — further this deepening of the divisions within the country.
So, what is that balance? The thing that I’m struggling with is what is that balance between accountability and the push for truth, and trying to say, ‘Enough is enough,’ and take a stand based on grounds of morality and values and security…versus reconciliation, and the need to go forward and to heal. Because there are a lot of Americans that voted for Donald Trump, and that continue to support him, and we would ignore that, I think, at our peril. So that’s the challenge set out before us in the months and years ahead, and we’re going to have to figure that out.