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Congressmen talk about having to use their military training inside Capitol amid rioting

Congressmen Jason Crow and Mike Gallagher, both of whom served in the Middle East, spoke about recalling their military training as a mob stormed the Capitol building Wednesday.
/ Source: TODAY

A pair of congressmen who are military veterans shared their shock over potentially having to use their war zone training on Wednesday when the U.S. Capitol building was stormed by a violent mob of pro-Trump supporters.

Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) spoke with Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Thursday about how the chaos was something they hadn't seen since they both served in Iraq.

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"We both served overseas, we served in combat to meet our enemies outside of the country," Crow said. "That's something we signed on to do. I don't think either of us in a million years ever thought that we would be in the situation as members of Congress on the House floor in the United States Capitol, of having to be in a situation of potentially having to fight our way out."

Crow did three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan as a U.S. Army Ranger, and Gallagher was deployed twice to Iraq as a U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer.

They were inside the building as a mob stormed through the entrance and broke windows in a scene that forced the evacuation of the Senate and Vice President Mike Pence and left four people dead.

"I never thought I would be having a conversation with my staff about how to barricade the doors and what weapons to use, and whether I could use the Marine Corps sword I have hanging on the walls of my office as a defensive weapon if the mob came, but that's where we were yesterday, and that's a sad day for American democracy," Gallagher said. "And I think Jason and I may have political disagreements, but we are united in our opposition to political violence of any form."

During the chaos, Crow was photographed comforting his colleague, Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.), as she laid flat on the floor.

Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., comforts Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa., while taking cover as protesters disrupt the joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral College vote on Wednesday. Tom Williams / Getty Images

"Susan Wild is a friend, and we were both upset in the moment and comforting each other, which I would hope anybody would do in that situation with a shred of humanity," Crow said.

"I just want to say to my good friend Jason Crow, that image of him was something that really struck me yesterday," Gallagher said.

When Congress reassembled on Wednesday night following the riot, many of Gallagher's Republican colleagues continued with their objections to affirming President-elect Joe Biden's election victory despite the violent scene. Biden's victory was ultimately affirmed early Thursday morning.

"I was astounded that the objectors persisted in objecting after hours of chaos and violence on the Capitol, knowing fully that what they were doing had no chance of success and courting yet again the dangerous outrage that they had stoked earlier in the day," Gallagher said.

As the mob attacked the Capitol, President Trump initially remained quiet before issuing a video on Twitter in which he told his supporters to go home, while also repeating false claims that the election was stolen from him. The video and two subsequent tweets were later taken down by Twitter and his account was locked.

"I think the president was the only person in the moment who could've told the violent mob to stand down, and I think what the objectors failed to realize is that there was a real risk to giving millions of Americans legitimate hope that somehow Congress was gonna overturn the results of the election on Jan. 6, which is of course not Congress's constitutional role," Gallagher said.

Both congressmen hope to move forward after Wednesday's ugly scene but want those involved to be held accountable.

"I want to say that we have to have a reckoning here, we absolutely need to have a reckoning," Crow said. "One needs to happen in the short term in the next couple of days and weeks. The traitors who stormed the capitol need to be tracked down and need to be brought to justice. I think it's really important for the country to see that happen."

"America can survive," Gallagher said. "We must emerge from this stronger, and we need to take a step back from the brink here."