A frenzied mob of pro-Trump insurrections that breached the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6 came perilously close to confronting Mike Pence and his family, according to a report by the Washington Post, as the vice president was rushed into a room off the Senate floor approximately 60 seconds before the rioters charged onto a landing that was less than 100 feet from the office where Pence, his wife, and his daughter were in hiding.
At 1 p.m., Pence began presiding over the joint session of Congress, opening the certificates of the electoral votes from each state, and it was around the same time that Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said he “realized… things aren’t going well,” as rioters encircled the building.
At 1:50 p.m., the D.C. police on-scene commander declared a riot, and, just before 2 p.m., officials received the first reports of radicals reaching the Capitol’s doors and attempting to break-in.
Pence didn’t leave the Senate floor until 2:13 p.m. and according to the Post report, video footage shows the mob arriving on a second-floor landing at 2:14 p.m., mere seconds after Pence and his family had been rushed inside an office less than 100 feet away (Secret Service agents later moved Pence to a secure room in the Capitol complex).
Before the protest, pro-Trump extremists had posted online about their intentions to kill Pence due to his refusal to indulge President Trump’s desire to overturn the election. In his speech prior to the storming of the Capitol, Trump told his supporters, “Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t, it’s a sad day for our country.” A Reuters photographer covering the chaos said he heard at least three different rioters say they wanted to find and hang Pence. There is video of rioters loudly chanting, “Hang Mike Pence!” as they infiltrated the main door on the east side of the Capitol. Rioters erected a wooden gallows next to the Capitol Reflecting Pool at one point. Even days after the siege, “Hang Mike Pence” was still trending on Twitter. In a court filing Friday asking a judge to detain Jacob Chansley, the QAnon supporter who was photographed wearing horns while standing above Pence’s desk, federal prosecutors said that rioters intended “to capture and assassinate elected officials.” The Justice Department alleges Chansley left a note for Pence warning that “it’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.” According to the FBI, Joshua Matthew Black, an Alabama man charged with trespassing after he made it into the Senate, said in a YouTube video: “Once we found out Pence turned on us and that they had stolen the election, like, officially, the crowd went crazy. I mean, it became a mob,” adding, “I wanted to get inside the building so I could plead the blood of Jesus over it. That was my goal.”
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The Justice Department’s internal watchdog announced Friday that it will investigate how the department and its law enforcement agencies prepared for and responded to the attacks. The review “will assess whether there are any weaknesses in DOJ protocols, policies, or procedures that adversely affected the ability of DOJ or its components to prepare effectively for and respond to the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6,” the inspector general said in a statement.