Bernie Sanders Staffer Defends Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Account of Capitol Riots

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's description of the threat posed to lawmakers during the U.S. Capitol riots has been backed by a Democratic primary campaign chief, after the lawmaker's critics questioned her account.

During an Instagram Live video posted on Monday, Ocasio-Cortez said she had cowered in the bathroom of her office as supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on January 6

The New York congresswoman has been praised for her frankness in describing how she feared for her life and was forced to revisit the trauma of her sexual assault.

But some have questioned her story, with conservative critics mentioning that her office is in the nearby Cannon House, not the main Capitol building. GOP Rep. Nancy Mace, whose office is close to Ocasio-Cortez's, tweeted: "Insurrectionists never stormed our hallway."

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, pictured on Capitol Hill on August 24, 2020. She has spoken of her trauma when the U.S. Capitol was stormed on January 6. Tom Williams/Getty Images

Ocasio-Cortez has vigorously defended her account of the day. She shared a tweet by the alt-right activist Jack Posobiec, who claimed that the congresswoman was "not in the Capitol building at the time of her 'near death' experience."

She wrote that these comments were part of a move by the right who were "manipulating the fact that most people don't know the layout [of] the Capitol complex. We were all on the Capitol complex—the attack wasn't just on the dome. The bombs Trump supporters planted surrounded our offices too."

Her account was supported by Ari Rabin-Havt, former deputy campaign manager for Sen. Bernie Sanders' tilt at the Democratic presidential nomination last year. He tweeted that he was at the Rayburn Tunnel in the Capitol complex during the attack.

"Trying to find a hiding place, I moved to [Cannon]. A swat team came running through the tunnel intersection yelling it was not safe & I should find a place to hide. Anyone suggesting @AOC is exaggerating is ignorant or a liar."

During the attack I was at the Rayburn Tunnel. Trying to find a hiding place, I moved to Canon. A swat team came running through the tunnel intersection yelling it was not safe & I should find a place to hide.

Anyone suggesting @aoc is exaggerating is ignorant or a liar.

— Ari Rabin-Havt (@AriRabinHavt) February 3, 2021

In another tweet he compared the attack with the evacuation of the Capitol complex on 9/11. "I've witnessed dozens of protests and security situations at the Capitol. I have traveled with two presidential campaigns. The only moment in my career I have been scared was in [Cannon] that day."

Ocasio-Cortez has also faced scrutiny over her comments describing her fear when she heard a man banging on the door and asking: "Where is she?"

This was interpreted by some as a dig at the Capitol Police, after the "aggressive" man turned out to be a police officer, The Hill reported.

She has accused her critics of downplaying the events of January 6, tweeting that it was "damning and revealing" that the GOP was conducting a "discrediting campaign."

"It's because they know they are implicated, so they're pivoting to (again) the classic abuse playbook of 'it's not as bad as they say," she tweeted.

Newsweek has contacted Ocasio-Cortez's office for comment.

This month, Trump faces a Senate impeachment trial on a charge that he incited his supporters to storm the building. The graphic below provided by Statista shows the support for new witnesses at the trial.

Senate Impeachment Donald Trump Witness Support Statista
American public support for hearing witnesses at the Senate impeachment trial. Statista