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Sen. Patty Murray recounts her narrow escape from a violent mob inside the U.S. Capitol

The impeachment trial this week has revealed a number of new, chilling details of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack. For the first time, Sen. Patty Murray from Washington state and the highest ranking female Democrat in the Senate, told Judy Woodruff Friday about the terror she experienced that day while hiding, just inches from the violent mob, who she says were looking to "kill."

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, meantime, as we have been reporting, the trial has revealed a number of new chilling details about the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

    And, today, we have learned even more. For the first time, Senator Patty Murray from Washington state and the highest-ranking female Democrat in the Senate is speaking publicly about the terror she experienced that day while hiding just inches from the violent mob who she says were looking to kill.

    She and I spoke this morning, before the defense team presented their case.

    Senator, I know this is very personal for you because you were close to where the rioters ended up being in the Capitol. Take us back to that day and tell us what happened.

  • Sen. Patty Murray:

    Well, I came to the Capitol that day, as I do every day, and it was fairly loud outside.

    I had heard the president speak, and I was very aware that this crowd was pretty negative. And so I texted my family and said: "I'm on my way. I will let when I get safely to the Capitol."

    And I did. I texted them. And I said: "I'm in my office. I'm safe."

    That turned out to not be true. I was there because I was going to be one of the first speakers on one of the first challenges. And I was preparing myself in an office very close to the Senate floor, when, all of a sudden, I saw — I could see out the window the people who were protesting were no longer protesting. They were breaking through. They were angry. They were yelling. They were loud.

    And I still felt, well, I'm in the Capitol, I'm safe, because that's what we feel.

    And it wasn't long before I heard explosions, I heard yelling, and, all of a sudden, they were in the hallway outside my door. I was inches away, along with my husband, who was with me at the time. And we were really frightened. We were hearing the announcements to stay locked down.

    We heard loud explosions. My husband yelled at me to get down. We were lying on the floor. And, all of a sudden, they were in the hall. They were yelling. They were yelling that they had breached the castle. They were yelling, "Kill the infidels."

    And we heard somebody saying: "We saw them. They're in one of these rooms."

    And they were pounding on our door and trying to open it. And my husband sat with his foot against the door, praying that it would not break in.

    I was not safe. It was a horrific feeling, and it lasted for a long time.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    It had to be incredibly frightening.

    Senator, how close do you think they came to breaking down the door?

  • Sen. Patty Murray:

    Well, what I remember most vividly is that the door — I didn't know — even know if the door was locked. I go in and out of it, and I couldn't remember if I locked it.

    And I was just — and we had to be quiet. We didn't want them to know we were in there, where we were. And I'm just looking at my husband, and we we're just — eye contact, and just we can see each other's eyes: Please, please let this door be locked.

    And this vision of my husband just putting his foot against a door, like he might be able to hold down this incredibly loud, angry, even jubilant mob outside our door was just beyond belief.

    And the terror I saw in his eyes was something I have not seen, and we have been married for almost 49 years.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Do you remember anything — any of the things that they were saying or yelling when they were outside — outside your office?

  • Sen. Patty Murray:


    They were yelling that they breached the castle, they breached the Capitol. They were yelling: "Freedom, freedom, freedom." They were yelling: "Kill the infidels."

    They were — I remember somebody saying: "Get me the map. I need the map."

    It sounded like they were talking on walkie-talkies to — or phones — I think it was walkie-talkies — to somebody else and getting directions. So, they knew what they were looking for.

    And, by the way, they didn't know it was me, I don't think. It could have been anyone. It could have been any member of Congress. I don't think it mattered whether we were Republican or Democrat, woman or man. They were in there to kill the infidels, as they were saying.

    And that is just an overwhelming thought to me today now, as I sit and listen in this trial, that what they were trying to do was to kill someone, not all of them, for sure, but that was some of them, enough of them.

    They wanted to take over our country, take over all of us using brute force.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Senator, why do you think they eventually left? Who do you thank for the fact that they didn't break through, that they didn't get in, and they…

  • Sen. Patty Murray:

    Well, they wanted to. They wanted to.

    I mean, it was every intention of them. You could hear it in their commands. You could hear it in their words.

    I was in there well over an hour under this. I was trying to text with my staff: What should we do?

    And I looked down, and my phone was running ought of power, because I had been trying to text my family. I wanted them to know all of a sudden what was going on. I was trying to text my staff. I was trying to get help.

    And I crawled over to where the phone was on my desk, and the power had been cut. I mean, there was just so many moments like that, that it's hard to even talk about.

    I remember, one point, my staff, I believed, or I heard it on a monitor — it's hard to remember — said: "Put on your gas masks."

    And we could hear something going on throughout the Capitol. And I'm, like, where are the masks? I have been here forever. I haven't seen — I haven't used mine or even known where it was since 9/11. And I didn't remember where it was. And I'm crawling across the floor trying to find a gas mask.

    That kind of fear is horrible. I was in the Capitol on 9/11, one of the few senators that was. I was in an office looking out across the Mall towards the Pentagon. We had known that the New York towers had been hit. We were talking about it. And, all of a sudden, the window that I was looking out of, I could see the smoke rise from the Pentagon.

    Officers raced in and told us to get out of there as fast as we could. And, of course, later, we learned that, but for some very brave people in a plane over Pennsylvania, we would have been hit.

    That's the only other time in my whole time here that I ever felt I was not safe in the Capitol, until January 6. And what happened on 9/11 is the urgency, the compassion, the sense of responsibility that members across the aisle worked with to go after terrorism is not here today. And, to me, that's really sad.

    And I feel less safe now because there is not a bipartisan action on the part of Congress to say this is wrong.

    I have had a hard time talking about this, because I don't want those people to ever feel that they had instilled fear in me that kept me from doing what I needed to do.

    And, today, when I see some members of Congress wanting to dismiss this or wanting to say put it in the past or move on, they're being instilled by fear, and that is what's motivating them.

    We cannot allow that to be what runs our country. We have to be a country that runs by strength, not by fear. And I don't want to talk about this, because I don't want to show my fear. But you show your fear, you show your fear is overcome by strength, by speaking out and speaking against what happened in the Capitol.

    That's what I want for my country. That's what I want for my grandkids. I want a country that uses words and voices, that speaks out against this kind of brute force, that does not allow it to be what runs our democracy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Senator, when you say your colleagues who vote not to convict, who say they don't think the president should be held responsible by conviction, what are you saying about them?

  • Sen. Patty Murray:

    I would say directly to them, do not let fear be what makes us do the right thing in the country for the future of our country and our democracy, whether it's fear of that brute power or it's fear of a constituency that's loud, or the fear of a president who is loud.

    Speak up for our democracy now, or you may lose it forever.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Senator, why are you speaking about this today?

  • Sen. Patty Murray:

    Because I realized, as I listened yesterday to the House managers, and they talked about the senators being 58 steps away, that I was inches away.

    And I heard and saw what many of them didn't hear until the last few days. And I realized that it's important for me to tell people what happened to me and so many others. And I know the staff that was there, the Capitol Police, so many people lived what — through what I did whose voices have not yet been heard. We need to speak up for them.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Senator, soon after January the 6th, you, by name, singled out Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Josh Hawley for their role in this.

    How do you view their role? Do you think they bear responsibility, some responsibility for what happened? And whether you do or not, how do you see working with them as colleagues in the Senate going forward?

  • Sen. Patty Murray:

    Well, I view anyone who knew this crowd's motive and incited them and did not condemn them should be held accountable.

    And I felt that the actions of Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley in particular did that.

    I don't know. It's going to be really hard. I work across the aisle all the time. I work with Republican colleagues I respect a lot. But I can't respect someone who tries to undermine our democracy by brute force.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And you believe they were part of inciting this insurrection?

  • Sen. Patty Murray:

    It was clear to me, through the words they used, through the actions they used, through the incitement that they used, that they knew what this crowd was capable of, and they didn't do anything to stop them.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Do you think they should stay in the Senate? Should the Senate take action against them?

  • Sen. Patty Murray:

    Well, I think the Senate is doing an inquiry into that.

    And I will respectfully wait for that inquiry to occur, and follow the advice of the senators who follow through on that.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Senator Patty Murray, I know everyone listening to you feels for what you went through.

    And we thank you so much for talking with us today and sharing your story.

    Thank you, Judy.

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