When Capitol Hill staffers were busy trying to clean up on Jan. 7, 2021, people in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office suddenly started answering an unusual set of phone calls.* Some who had taken part in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot started calling Pelosi’s office to find out where they could recover any items they had left behind.
People who had stormed the Capitol called “asking whether there was a lost and found because they forgot their phone there, or they left their purse or what have you,” Rep. Jamie Raskin told Insider. The staffers passed on the calls to law enforcement. “The officers quickly got on the phone and said, yeah, just give us your name, your address, your Social, you know, and we’ll tie up those loose ends,” the Democratic lawmaker from Maryland said.
Raskin, who is on the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot, said the episode illustrates how so many of the people who stormed the Capitol truly felt they had done nothing wrong. “What’s so fascinating to me about that there really were people who felt as if they had been summoned to Washington by the president,” Raskin said. The phone calls looking for lost items illustrate one of the main challenges the committee investigating the riot is facing. “When they were told that they were trespassing and invading the Capitol, they said the president invited them to be there,” he said. “They didn’t have any kind of subtle understanding of the separation of powers. They just thought that the number one person in the US government had invited them to be there, and therefore they had a right.”
That attitude that so many rioters had “underscores the central role that Donald Trump” played on what happened that day. But it also complicates things for the committee because “it does create a problem for assigning guilt at different levels of conduct.”
Correction, Jan. 18, 2022: This piece misstated the day of cleanup after the Capitol riot. It was Jan. 7, 2021, not Jan. 7, 2001.