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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's account of the riot at the Capitol

Pelosi speaks to 60 Minutes about Capitol riot
Nancy Pelosi: The 2021 60 Minutes interview 13:41

Nancy Pelosi's House staffers hid under a table as rioters tried to break down a door to the office they were in, Pelosi told 60 Minutes in an interview that aired Sunday night. Speaker Pelosi was on the House floor during the count of the electoral college vote in the afternoon of January 6 when rioters spurred on by President Trump began barreling past barricades, clashing with police and breaking into the Capitol in a day that shook the nation.

"When the protesters were making the assault on the Capitol, before they even got to these doors, the Capitol Police pulled me from the podium," Pelosi told 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl. "And I was concerned because I said, 'No, I want to be here.' And they said, 'Well, no, you have to leave.' I said, 'No, I'm not leaving.' They said, 'No, you must leave.'"

Police, guns drawn, held the invaders off the House floor, but on the other side of the Capitol in the Senate, the Trump-supporting mob was able to break into the chamber. The scenes were shocking to watch.

"I think there was-- universally accepted that what happened was a terrible, terrible violation of what-- of the Capitol, of the first branch of government, the legislative branch, by the president of the United States," Pelosi said.

The mob was free to roam the halls of Congress, one group making it right up to Speaker Pelosi's suite of offices. They smashed in one of the office doors before they went through to another door – behind which Pelosi's staff cowered, terrorized.

"The staff went under the table, barricaded the door, turned out the lights, and were silent in the dark," Pelosi said.  "Under the table for two and a half hours."

During this time in hiding, they listened to the invaders banging on that door - as could be heard on a recording from one of the staffers' phones. Across the hall, a group broke into the speaker's private office.  

"You see what they did to the mirror there? The glass was all over the place. They took a computer and all that stuff," Pelosi said. "And then the desk that they actually were at was right there that they defamed in that way, feet on the desk and all that."

A member of the mob who invaded Pelosi's office puts his feet up on a desk.

The man who was seen in the photo with his feet on the speaker's desk was arrested on Friday. And the FBI is investigating whether any of the agitators -- some seen in ballistic vests, with zip ties -- intended to kidnap or kill legislators or their staffers. 

"The evidence is now that-- that it was a well-planned, organized group with leadership and guidance and direction. And the direction was to go get people," Pelosi said. "They were vocally saying, 'Where's the speaker? We know she has staff. They're here someplace. We're going to find them.'" 

While all this was going on, Speaker Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer from an undisclosed location called on the president to tell his followers to leave the Capitol. 

"The president said, 'Go home,' but the election was, you know, went on with his lies, his misrepresentations, his delusion that he won in a landslide in this election," Pelosi explained.

"So finally, the protesters were ejected," 60 Minutes' Lesley Stahl said to Pelosi. "And you came almost right back into session. How did that happen?"

"I know from Chuck Schumer and from Mitch McConnell, there was consensus that we should come back. There was some suggestions that it may take too long, and we should do it at the undisclosed location," Pelosi said. "But there was general belief that it-- from the message of strength that we needed to send, we had to go back to the Capitol as soon as possible."

Even after the events of the day, some Republicans still followed through with their decisions to challenge the certified election results.

"After the violence. Shame on them," Pelosi said about the certified vote objections. "And shame on two-thirds of the Republican caucus in the House supporting... so these people are enablers of the president's behavior."

Pelosi's office announced Sunday night that House Democrats will bring a resolution Monday calling on Vice President Pence to initiate Mr. Trumps removal from office under the 25th Amendment.

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