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Congresswoman On What It Was Like To Be Evacuated From The U.S. Capitol


Democratic Representative Cori Bush knows what a protest looks like. She got interested in politics after taking to the streets in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014. And she says that what happened today at the U.S. Capitol - that was no protest but a disgrace to democracy. When I spoke with Congresswoman Bush earlier this evening, she told me that just before rioters broke into the building, she looked outside the House gallery, and...

CORI BUSH: I was able to see people starting to come closer up the stairs. And so I'm seeing the flags, and I'm seeing people starting to come towards the steps. And so I went on ahead and left and was able to get back to my office. And then within a matter of minutes, probably before I even made it back to my office, they had already come through the doors. So my team and I - we're safe. I'm just glad I was - we were able to get out.

KELLY: You're describing it so calmly and matter-of-factly. It must have been quite frightening in the moment.

BUSH: You know, I come from protests. You know, I've been to hundreds of protests, even though this was not a protest. But the idea that I am seated now to be able to affect change with stuff like this, with an insurrection like this - because I am seated, that gives me hope. And it also helps me to remember my place. You know, my place is to use what I know. Watching what happened on the television and looking out of the door, seeing what was happening while I was there - it's not what we were doing fighting for Black lives. This is not it. We were fighting in defense of people's lives, making sure that people could have a decent quality of life. And the thing is, what we were witnessing today was a bunch of people who were upset because they want to side with a president who is not for all the people; a president who has decided that he wants to hold on to something that isn't his. And so they want to stand with a person, with a character, with a personality versus making sure that they are upholding and uplifting our democracy. So that's what we were witnessing. It was not a protest. It was a coup. It was a domestic terror attack.

KELLY: Those are heavy words to hear anybody talking about - about Washington, the capital of the United States, in 2021. How much responsibility, in your view, does President Trump bear for this? How much does his supporters bear for this?

BUSH: President Donald Trump needs to be impeached again. I know that there are people who are probably working on that right now. I hope to see that happen. He incited what happened today. He told his folks to stand by and stand down, you know, and now it was time for them to come out. And so now what did he tell them? You know, you're special. You're very special. So go ahead, and go home. The thing is, you're very special. You did a good job. You did your work today. Now go ahead and go home, you know, so I can save face, you know? No, it's done. This was a racist Republican attempt to overturn this election and disenfranchise the voices of Black and brown and Indigenous voters who delivered this election for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and how it has led to a crisis of our democracy. And now it has incited a domestic terror attack. It must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. And I believe the Republican members whose actions have incited this violence must be removed in Congress. And so let me tell you I am introducing a resolution calling for the removal of any and all members of Congress who have, for months, tried to steal this election and invalidate the votes of Black, brown and Indigenous people.

KELLY: You serve in Congress. You have to serve with Republican lawmakers. How do you work with them going forward? What do you say to them tonight?

BUSH: That that work was dangerous - and for those that were not a part of it, they need to condemn it. You need to hold your people accountable, hold your party accountable, hold your colleagues accountable because you put the lives of people in danger today over Donald Trump that, at the end of the day, wouldn't stand up for you; at the end of the day, will throw you under the bus, you know? And so we want to make sure that regardless of where you stand, Democrat or Republican, that you cannot come and storm the United States Capitol. You cannot break windows and break down doors. There is a way to make sure that your voice is heard, and this is not it. This is not it.

KELLY: Let me ask you quickly. We just have a few seconds left. But in a sentence or two, are you optimistic that a Biden-Harris administration might help calm these waters?

BUSH: You know, I don't know that it will calm it, but I will say I'm excited about it. And we are all going to work together. This is what we need right now to fix what Donald Trump is broken.

KELLY: That is Representative Cori Bush, Democrat of Missouri.

We appreciate your time. We're glad you're safe.

BUSH: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.