Vice President Mike Pence (centre, looking towards door) is moved by security away from the rioters (Picture: AP)
Chilling security footage of the storming of the Capitol building shows the mob searching for Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Prosecutors unveiled the video in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Wednesday, when it emerged just how close the rioters – who roamed the halls chanting ‘Hang Mike Pence’ – were to the country’s leaders.
A host of previously unreleased recordings show Trump supporters smashing windows and doors as overwhelmed police begged for help on their radios. Five people died in the chaos, which former President Trump is accused of inciting on January 6.
Many rioters were equipped with combat gear and members of extremist groups were among the first inside. Outside, the mob had set up a makeshift gallows.
At one dramatic moment, the video shows police shooting into the crowd through a broken window, killing San Diego rioter Ashli Babbitt. In another, a police officer is seen being crushed by the mob.
The vice president, who had been presiding over a session to certify Joe Biden’s victory over Mr Trump – sparking the outgoing President’s criticism – is shown being rushed to safety, where he sheltered in an office with his family just 100 feet from the rioters.
Ms Pelosi was evacuated from the complex before the mob prowled her suite of offices, her staff hiding quietly behind closed doors.
Police overwhelmed by the mob frantically announce ‘we lost the line’ and urge officers to safety. One later died.
Though most of the Senate jurors have already made up their minds on acquittal or conviction, they appeared stunned by the footage, watching on in silence.
Rioters had rummaged through their desks in the same chamber where the impeachment trial is now being held.
House prosecutor Stacey Plaskett, the Democratic delegate representing the Virgin Islands, said: ‘They did it because Donald Trump sent them on this mission.
‘President Trump put a target on their backs and his mob broke into the Capitol to hunt them down.’
Videos of the siege have been circulating since the day of the riot, but the graphic compilation amounted to the most complete moment-by-moment retelling of an iconic moment in the USA’s history, which sparked international condemnation.
It offered fresh details into the attackers, scenes of police heroism and staff whispers of despair.
Some senators acknowledged it was the first time they were grasping how perilously close the country came to serious danger.
Alaskan Republican Lisa Murkowski: ‘When you see all the pieces come together, just the total awareness of that, the enormity of this, threat, not just to us as people, as lawmakers, but the threat to the institution and what Congress represents, it’s disturbing. Greatly disturbing.’
The presentation opened the first full day of arguments in the trial as prosecutors argued Mr Trump was no ‘innocent bystander’ but the ‘inciter in chief’ of the deadly insurrection.
Mr Pence had been overseeing a session to certify Joe Biden’s victory as President (Picture: AP)
Pro-Trump protesters wave flags in front of the Capitol building (Picture: EPA)
Rioters stand by the door to the Senate chambers (Picture: EPA)
They argue the then president spent months spreading election lies and building a mob of supporters primed for his call to stop Mr Biden’s victory.
The House Democrats showed piles of evidence from the former president himself – hundreds of Trump tweets and comments that culminated in his January 6 rally cry to go the Capitol and ‘fight like hell’ to overturn his defeat.
Mr Trump then did nothing to stem the violence and watched with ‘glee’, they said, as the mob ransacked the building.
Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin, the lead prosecutor, argued: ‘When his mob overran and occupied the Senate and attacked the House and assaulted law enforcement, he watched it on TV like a reality show. He revelled in it.’
In one scene, a Capitol Police officer redirects former Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney down a hallway to avoid the mob. It was the same officer, Eugene Goodman, who has been praised as a hero for having lured rioters away from the Senate doors.
‘It tears at your heart and brings tears to your eyes,’Mr Romney said after watching the video, admitting he had not realised how close he had been to danger.
The proceedings unfolded after the former president was left fuming on Wednesday, when his attorneys delivered a meandering defence and failed to halt the trial on constitutional grounds.
Mr Trump is the first president to face an impeachment trial after leaving office and the first to be impeached twice. He is charged with ‘incitement of insurrection’.
His defence lawyers say he is protected by the Constitution’s First Amendment and was just using figures of speech.
The trial continues.
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