WASHINGTON, D.C. – Many congress members fled the Capitol on January 6,, 2021, as rioters stormed the building, but Congressman Jim McGovern was the last lawmaker to leave the house floor that day.
“They had broken the window, they broke the glass while I was there and we weren’t able to move because people were trying to file out of this doorway,” Rep. McGovern said. “So being the last person out, I just waited until people got through.”
Just moments earlier, McGovern (D-MA) had spent several minutes filling in for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“When I took over from speaker Pelosi and she was called out of the Chamber,” McGovern said. “She didn’t know she was going to be whisked away. I mean, she left her phone there.”
The House and Senate were meeting jointly that day, to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election. They had to break, to meet separately, to consider an objection made to the results.
McGovern said that even then, he didn’t know what was really happening outside.
“It was hard to believe,” McGovern said. “I never ever thought that the capitol could be breached that way. I never thought that people would come in and desecrate this building. It just hasn’t happened.”
While trying to continue the proceedings, with Pelosi now gone, McGovern was bombarded by texts from friends and family, concerned about his safety.
Around 2:30 p.m. he tweeted, “I am currently in the House Chamber presiding in the chair. The doors to the chamber have been locked because protesters have breached security. We will not be intimidated.”
Recalling the day, one year later, McGovern said he was way more angry than scared even after coming nearly face to face with the insurrectionists.
“When I walked off the floor I was maybe about 10 feet from a door that was glass from the middle up and I saw these people,” McGovern said. “I saw these rioters, these terrorists with their fist smashing the glass to try to get at us. If you would have asked me to describe what hate looks like, I would tell you it’s what I saw in the eyes of those rioters.”
It was a close call, but McGovern would come out unscathed. He spent the next several hours tweeting from an undisclosed location and preparing to go back to work. When lawmakers did finally return, the Massachusetts lawmaker was surprised and discouraged at what happened next.
“When we came back into the chamber after being attacked, after police were brutally beaten and after we had members here on the Hill threatened, we had members [of Congress] who doubled down on the big lie, who challenged the legitimate election results who wanted to overturn the will of the American people” McGovern said.
For McGovern, working with the colleagues he says now deny anything happened that day has made moving on from Jan. 6, 2021, nearly impossible.
Still, he’s optimistic that the special House committee investigating what happened will uncover the truth.