During an interview with the Washington Post about his new book “Betrayal,” ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl said that one of the offices most trashed in the United States Capitol on January 6 reveals a lot about the assailants’ intentions.
While many of President Donald Trump’s followers were clearly swept up in the moment, it was also evident that a portion of them had very precise objectives to complete on January 6.
The Senate Parliamentarian’s office, according to Karl, was the most looted of all the chambers in the Capitol. At the moment, CNN’s Ali Zaslav tweeted a video of the workplace. Karl added that folks passing through the office were clearly seeking for something special, and he believes it was the Electoral College ballots.
The event on January 6th is described in the book “three dark and shiny mahogany boxes brought in by the parliamentarian’s office to be carried along as the senators walked over to the House. The boxes looked like relics from a time long past—each one held shut by wide leather straps with brass clasps and locked with a skeleton key.”
The ransacked office of the Senate Parliamentarian: pic.twitter.com/E7PsSgoAEX
— Ali Zaslav (@alizaslav) January 7, 2021
Back at the gathering in the White House Ellipse, Trump stated that he would lead his supporters to the Capitol building. As chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) was in charge of the day’s activities.
“I thought it was the case that the president can come on the Senate floor anytime he wants to, but the president can come on the House floor only when invited,” Blunt told Karl. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) did not invite Trump to the House, and she had no plans to do so. Blunt stated that if Trump was going to the Capitol, he’d be in the Senate, and members weren’t there since they were on their way to the House for the joint session that counts the Electoral College votes.
A modest gathering had already gathered outside the Capitol, but a massive number of Trump fans was on its way in. The FBI and Capitol Police were responding to allegations of explosive devices outside the Democratic and Republican Party buildings at the time.
Karl recounted that when the chambers were being evacuated, a Parliamentarian employee had the foresight to preserve the votes as they fled out the room. The ballots were with the members and employees wherever they were evacuated.
“I believe that those rioters who were very keenly focused–this was not a protest, it wasn’t–this was an effort to stop a transition of power,” said Karl. “I believe they were searching for those ballots, with the intent of destroying them, and they were saved, again, by a junior staffer who’s named–didn’t want her name to be used, doesn’t want to be highlighted for doing this. But again, that small step, what would have happened?”
He added that if the insurrectionists were able to take the ballots, they could always be changed, but the Constitution requires votes to be cast by particular dates and signatures to be submitted and approved by certain dates. There is no legal structure in place to cope with what may happen if the assailants stole the votes. He indicated that it would very certainly go to the Supreme Court, but who would do that? What form of legal action would be taken?
While the worker made sure that didn’t happen, it was found after the insurgency that a website that provides historical maps of the Capitol was being read all around the nation.
In the days leading up to Jan. 6, a Washington, D.C. history website that uploads images, maps, and other information about the Capitol noticed a remarkable surge in readership.
Elliot Carter, the owner of the website WashingtonTunnels.com, was concerned that individuals were looking for escape routes or entrance points to the building in preparation for the assault. His issue reached the top of the U.S. Capitol Police.
“These people were suddenly obsessed with the Capitol building,” Carter said in August.
While it’s conceivable that the assailants sought to seek out escape routes for officials, the fact that the Parliamentarian’s office was the most heavily damaged leads Karl to believe that this was always part of the plan.