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Sen. Tammy Duckworth on watching rioters wave the American flag while attacking the Capitol

January 14, 2021, 1:57 PM UTC
VetsAid Charity Benefit Concert
FAIRFAX, VA - SEPTEMBER 20: U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth speaks at the VetsAid Charity Benefit Concert at Eagle Bank Arena on September 20, 2017 in Fairfax, Virginia. VetsAid is a foundation created by rock legend Joe Walsh to support veterans and their families. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)
Paul Morigi—Getty Images

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Jane Fraser makes her mark on Citigroup, the House impeaches President Trump, and Sen. Tammy Duckworth tells us what it was like to be in the Capitol as the pro-Trump mob broke down the doors. Have a great Thursday.

– Inside the attack on the Capitol. History was made last night when the House of Representatives voted 232 to 197 to impeach Donald Trump—making him the only U.S. president to be impeached twice.

The charge is “incitement of insurrection,” a reaction to last week’s attack on the Capitol, when a mob of the President’s supporters violently stormed into the building in an attempt to derail the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

One of the lawmakers at the Capitol that day was Senator Tammy Duckworth, who spoke to Emma about what that unimaginable experience was like. Duckworth said she was not on the Senate floor when the building was breeched—she’d been in the underground tunnels on her way there to speak when Capitol Police informed her of what happening above ground. She rerouted to a secure location, where she rode out the attack.

Duckworth is an Army veteran who served in the Iraq war, where she was injured in an attack on a helicopter she was piloting, losing both her legs. Her experience both as a soldier and as someone who uses a wheelchair are evident in how she reacted to the danger of the moment. She tells Emma that she, “always know[s] where the back way out of a room is….And I knew that I could take care of myself.”

From her preparation (“I always carry provisions in my backpack—water, aspirin, Tylenol, power bars”), to her presence of mind (“I knew the best thing we could do was to stay out of [the Capitol Police’s] way—to be one less factor for them to worry about”), to her calm consideration of how to face such a situation in a wheelchair (“There are multiple doors into the floor of the Senate chambers, but I can only really go in and out of the doors behind the dais. I can only use the elevators”), it’s hard to imagine anyone handling a crisis with more grace.

Duckworth’s military background also brought a special sting to the moment. She says:

“…it was really frustrating to me to see people carrying the American flag—the same flag I wore on my uniform when I went into combat— but they were carrying the flag to attack our Capitol and to try to basically overthrow the Constitution.”

The senator tells Emma that she believes the insurrectionists should face consequences for their actions—as should the President. And now that the House has had its say, Duckworth will likely have a chance to cast her vote on that subject later this month, when the Senate is expected to begin its impeachment trial.

Kristen Bellstrom

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


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