AOC: Those Challenging Riot Story ‘Manipulating’ People Who ‘Don’t Know the Layout of Capitol Complex’

AOC AP PhotoSeth Wenig
AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Some in conservative media have challenged Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) over her claims regarding the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, saying that she was not technically in the actual U.S. Capitol building but in a nearby House office building.

RedState and One America News Network (OANN) reporter Jack Posobiec, as well as the Daily Wire, have  published reports stating that Ocasio-Cortez was not actually in the Capitol. While they are technically correct—she was in a nearby office building—Ocasio-Cortez is also correct when she says these reports are misleading, as they are “manipulating the fact that most people don’t know the layout the Capitol complex.”

The U.S. Capitol complex is a series of buildings—the actual Capitol is at the center of it with the world-famous dome on top. There are also several House and Senate office buildings on either side across the street—but connected underground via tunnels. Anyone who has been inside regularly and worked in the complex knows the office buildings are connected via tunnels over to the actual Capitol building.

The office buildings themselves are also connected via tunnels. This is so members, staff, and press do not have to go outside to go between buildings in the complex. In fact, the tunnels are so sophisticated they even have shuttles that run between some of the buildings. There are coffee shops, restaurants, stores, barber shops, salons, and more that operate in the tunnels underground as well. 

Once someone is inside the Capitol complex—especially the most secure of the buildings, the actual Capitol building—it is not difficult to walk through the tunnels over to the office buildings for either the House or the Senate.

As far as we know a month out from the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol, nobody that got into the U.S. Capitol made it into the tunnels or over to the office buildings. The conservative media outlets and Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), in a tweet, argue that point in their criticisms of Ocasio-Cortez.

But when this incident was happening, it is also understandable that someone who was anywhere in the U.S. Capitol complex–not just in the Capitol building–would be upset and startled. In a moment like this, as well, someone inside the complex would not have regular information flowing to them, so they might not be aware of the specifics of what was happening around them, further contributing to an atmosphere of fear. 

In fact, authorities ordered lockdowns of the entire Capitol complex—including the office building where Ocasio-Cortez was—during the riot. Her office building was also evacuated at one point when police investigated, then cleared, a suspicious package nearby.

All that being said, that does not mean that Ocasio-Cortez does not have a political motive to keep this story alive as long as possible—the argument many of her critics on the right have made. This story divides Republicans, pitting them against former President Donald Trump, and it also puts the GOP on defense. So one might understand why the leftist Squad member is doing everything she can to keep it going. 

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