Just a week ago, Representative Jason Crow was barricaded in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol as rioters broke in and attempted to prevent Congress from certifying the election of Joe Biden. In that moment, the former Army Ranger sprung into action, helping the Capitol Police get House members to safety, while also preparing himself for the potential that he might need to fight the angry mob.
Ultimately, all members of Congress were moved out of harm’s way, and after the rioters were cleared from the Capitol, Joe Biden’s election was certified by the legislative body later that night. During those proceedings, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy recognized Crow as one of the “heroes among us,” for his calm resolve throughout the day’s events.
In the aftermath of the insurrection, Crow and his colleagues have been left to clean up the mess from one of the darkest days in American history. Part of their efforts to determine culpability occurred Wednesday afternoon when the U.S. House of Representatives impeached President Donald Trump for his role in inciting the mob. Just after those events ended, we spoke with Crow about why impeachment was necessary, what further investigations are underway, and next week’s inauguration.
5280: It’s obviously been a crazy week. I guess to start, how are you doing?
Rep. Jason Crow: I am still processing what exactly happened. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would be having the same feelings as I did when I was at war while in the House Chamber. But it happened, and we are all dealing with it in different ways, trying to support each other. Primarily, though, we are focusing on our mission, which is to protect the country and make sure we are getting President Trump out of office as quickly as possible.
How would you describe the vibe at the Capitol? Certainly, impeachment proceedings just took place, but back here in Colorado we’ve been seeing images of the National Guard and heavy security at the Capitol.
Well, it is very different from normal times in almost every way. I got into Washington, D.C., last night, just in time to walk around within the security perimeter on Capitol Hill, and I haven’t seen anything like it since I served in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are barricades, defensive positions and armored vehicles, hundreds of soldiers patrolling Capitol Hill. It is a very surreal experience to see our pantheon of democracy look like that. And there is a lot of tension. We just impeached the president and we had a terrorist attack last week. We are also facing many threats in the week ahead.
It feels wild to even ask this but do those security measures feel like enough? Do you and your colleagues feel safe?
I think we are getting there. We were all obviously very surprised by the catastrophic security failure that occurred last week. Nobody was expecting that, including me. The breadth and the depth of the failure was pretty astounding. So we are going to have to rebuild that confidence. I will say that the rank and file of the U.S. Capitol Police overwhelmingly performed their job admirably. Lots of officers threw themselves against the mob and risked their lives. And, of course, some lost their lives to hold back the mob. They never should have been put in that position. They weren’t given the resources and the support they needed to get the job done. I am working with congressional leadership and the military and others to make sure there are no domestic terrorists or sympathizers within those forces. And that we have the right type and quantity of forces necessary to secure the inauguration.
As part of your efforts to investigate last week’s events, it sounds like you’ve had some cursory conversations with high-ranking security officials. Based on those talks, what do you know about what happened last week? And what are you hoping to still figure out?
What we know is that law enforcement did not pay attention to substantial intelligence and evidence online. This was being planned in the open and what happened was exactly what the terrorists said they were going to do. It was an intelligence failure from the outset. Secondly, there just weren’t enough forces and personnel available. There should have been 5,000, if not more, National Guard members already there to reinforce the Capitol Police. Also, the speed at which people were able to break through the doors was pretty astonishing, so we are going to have to make some changes to bolster the defenses of the complex. Those are the things that I know. We are obviously investigating more. The Government Accountability Office initiated an investigation at my request. I think we are going to find out a lot more in the days and months ahead.
I know you have also asked law enforcement agencies in your district here in Colorado to conduct reviews to see if any personnel had connections to the riot. Have you heard back from that request?
Yeah, we are working closely with the law enforcement agencies in the district to make sure they are addressing our concerns. I have spoken to most of them in the last few days. What we saw last week was the really rapid expansion of a domestic terrorist movement in the United States. It poses a threat to our country and our security for the months and years ahead. We know that a fair number of folks within the mob held positions of public trust, whether they be military or veterans, police, firefighters, elected officials. We have to make sure we are holding those folks accountable and ensuring the integrity of law enforcement. I had a very long conversation with Secretary of the Army, Ryan McCarthy, about that. He has given me assurances that he will take action. And, as I said, I will continue to work with law enforcement, as well.
Going back to impeachment, what were your conversations like with Republican colleagues today?
Well, I talked with plenty of people who I’ve developed relationships with over the years, people that I have known to be rational or reasonable folks. There is a whole different group of people who are conspiracy theorists. The people that I have worked with over the years, who I had pretty long conversations with, expressed a lot of fear. They are afraid of the radicalization of the Trump base. We are asking for leadership that is in the best interest of the country, though. And also welcome to the club. We have been pushing back and defending our democracy against Donald Trump for years, and it has caused many of us to be the subject of death threats and other aggressions. That is just the price of leadership in the current era.
The main argument from Republicans throughout the impeachment proceedings seemed to be that we shouldn’t impeach the president for the sake of unity. What is your response to that line of thought?
Of course our country needs unity and healing. But there can’t be unity and healing without truth and accountability. We also have a terrorist threat that we are facing right now, and Donald Trump, who is sitting in the White House, created that movement and incited it. There is an immediate risk that has to be addressed. Even after the inauguration, accountability is going to be very important for the type of reconciliation that we have as a country. We need to have unity against violence and terror, unity against everything this country faces with the pandemic.
It seems like any trial of Donald Trump in the Senate wouldn’t occur until after Inauguration Day. Do you still think it is important to follow through with that even after Joe Biden is in office?
Yes. Absolutely. The American public needs to see what happened and who was responsible. That’s always the point of a trial. It needs to be put on full display for the American people. In addition to that, Donald Trump should be barred from holding federal office. He is a danger to our democracy and the American people.
At this point, do you plan to attend the inauguration?
Absolutely. I will go. We will not be intimidated by this group of terrorists and rioters. We are far bigger and stronger as a democracy, as a Congress, than any group of terrorists or mob. We will stand up there and we will be proud.