Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she is a survivor of sexual assault on Monday, and accused Republican lawmakers of deploying the "tactics of abusers" in their rush to move past last month's pro-Trump insurrection.
During an Instagram Live broadcast on Monday, Ocasio-Cortez offered a vivid and emotional retelling of her experience in the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. She wiped tears from her face as she described fearing for her life while hiding inside a bathroom even before violent insurrectionists breached the Capitol.
"The reason I say this and the reason I'm getting emotional in this moment is because these folks who tell us to move on, that it's not a big deal, that we should forget what's happened, or even telling us to apologize. These are the same tactics of abusers," Ocasio-Cortez told the audience of roughly 150,000 viewers.
"I'm a survivor of sexual assault," she continued. "I haven't told many people that in my life. But when we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other."
The New York lawmaker specifically called out Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, who she said were responsible for spreading lies about the presidential election and downplaying the violent outcome at the Capitol building that they'd helped foment.
As the pro-Trump mob pushed through barricades surrounding the perimeter of the Capitol, around 1 p.m. Ocasio-Cortez said she heard a man enter her office, pounding on her door and shouting: "Where is she?" Though the man turned out to be a Capitol police officer, he treated her and a staffer with “a tremendous amount of anger and hostility” that left her questioning whose side he was on, Ocasio-Cortez said.
Following what she said were vague instructions from the unidentified officer, Ocasio-Cortez and an aide sprinted to a different building, frantically knocking on different doors and eventually taking shelter in California Representative Katie Porter's office. Staffers barricaded the entrance, as Ocasio-Cortez changed into clothes that she hoped she could use to blend in if she had to flee.
On Monday night, Rep. Porter offered her own retelling of the experience to MSNBC. "I was saying ‘Don’t worry, I’m a mom, I’m calm, I’ve got everything here we need. We can live for like a month in this office.’ And she said: ‘I just hope I get to be a mom, I hope I don’t die today.’”
The Democratic lawmaker has been the target of a near constant death threats since winning New York's 14th District in 2018. In one instance, a self-described white nationalist and Coast Guard lieutenant was arrested for stockpiling guns in an alleged plot to kill Ocasio-Cortez, and other Democratic lawmakers.
On Monday, she revealed that she'd received numerous warnings in the days leading up to the riot, including messages “that in particular, I needed to be careful about the 6th." One of the men who was arrested for allegedly breaching the Capitol building also tweeted "Assassinate AOC," according to federal prosecutors.
The lack of adequate security ahead of the insurrection was immediately apparent, Ocasio-Cortez recalled. "Lots of people [are] saying that violence is expected on the 6th, and there’s like a waist-high parade fence. I thought that was weird."
Hours later, as the violent mob descended upon the Capitol building, Ocasio-Cortez said she was forced to come to terms with the possibility that she could die.
“I really just felt like, if this is the plan for me, then people will be able to take it from here,” she said. “I had fulfilled my purpose.”