Democratic lawmakers are voicing safety concerns in the week after the storming of the Capitol and criticizing the actions of some of their Republican colleagues regarding security in the days around the attack.
Sarah Groh, the chief of staff to Representative Ayanna S. Pressley, Democrat of Massachusetts, told The Boston Globe on Wednesday that when Ms. Groh tried to push the panic buttons in the Capitol, she discovered that all of the ones in Ms. Pressley’s office had been inexplicably “torn out.”
Representative Jamaal Bowman, Democrat of New York, tweeted on Wednesday that his office also did not have panic buttons during the assault. And Democratic members of Congress on Wednesday accused unnamed Republicans of giving tours of the Capitol before the violent siege.
“Those members of Congress who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5, a reconnaissance for the next day, those members of Congress that incited this violent crowd,” said Representative Mikie Sherrill, Democrat of New Jersey, “I’m going to see that they’re held accountable.”
The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan federal watchdog agency, has signaled that it would open an investigation that would examine what roles members of Congress might have played, according to Representative Jason Crow, Democrat of Colorado, who requested the inquiry.
The inspector general of the Capitol Police is also opening a potentially wide-ranging investigation into security breaches connected to the siege that could determine the extent of involvement of some Capitol Police officers, according to a senior congressional aide with direct knowledge of the investigation.
Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the Democratic whip, told CNN this week that although he took shelter in his unmarked office in the Capitol during the attack, the mob was able to find where he was.
“That to me indicates that something untoward may have been going on,” he said.
In a livestream on Tuesday night, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said she feared that some of her colleagues would put her in danger by revealing her location.
“I didn’t even feel safe around other members of Congress,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said in an hourlong livestream posted on Instagram. “There were QAnon and white supremacist sympathizers and, frankly, white supremacist members of Congress in that extraction point who I know, and who I had felt would disclose my location, who would create opportunities to allow me to be hurt, kidnapped, etc.”
Ms. Pressley echoed Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, writing on Twitter that she did not feel safe sheltering with certain lawmakers.
“The second I realized our ‘safe room’ from the violent white supremacist mob included treasonous, white supremacist, anti masker Members of Congress who incited the mob in the first place, I exited,” Ms. Pressley said.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and Ms. Pressley are both members of “The Squad,” a group of four progressive congresswomen of color. They have been verbally attacked by conservatives and the president for their policies.
Representative Lauren Boebert, Republican of Colorado, drew criticism from Democrats for tweeting about Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s location during the attack, despite reports that lawmakers were instructed by security officials not to reveal their whereabouts. Ms. Boebert later dismissed the seriousness of her actions.
“They accuse me of live-tweeting the speaker’s presence after she had been safely removed from the Capitol, as if I was revealing some big secret, when in fact this removal was also being broadcast on TV,” Ms. Boebert said in a statement on Monday.
In the week leading up to the Capitol siege, Ms. Boebert, a fiery gun-rights activist, released an ad declaring that she would carry her Glock with her on the streets of Washington, including on her way to work. On her way to the House chamber for the impeachment vote on Wednesday, Ms. Boebert caused a spectacle by pushing her way through metal detectors, which were installed as part of heightened security measures after the attack, and ignoring police officers who asked her to stop.
Ms. Boebert and other freshman Republicans, such as Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, have questioned or outright flouted guidelines meant to protect lawmakers from violence, intruders or the coronavirus.
“I did not know if I was going to make it to the end of that day alive,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said during her livestream. “Not just in a general sense, but also in a very, very specific sense.”
Luke Broadwater contributed reporting.