How Murkowski escaped mob violence at the Capitol

A large Trump flag waves in front of the U.S. Capitol
Protesters outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Pro-Trump extremists later stormed the U.S. Capitol. (Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

When a violent mob stormed the Capitol Wednesday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski at one point ran for her life.

She called the day “awful in every way,” and doesn’t mind saying she was frightened.

“Yeah, I was scared. I was scared for our country,” she said outside the Senate chamber shortly after midnight. “But I’m going to go to bed tonight knowing we’re going to get through this, too.”

Alaska’s all-Republican delegation to Congress voted to accept the Electoral College vote. The state’s two U.S senators and sole House member did not support a campaign by President Trump to stay in office despite losing the election to Democrat Joe Biden.

The process affirming Biden’s win ended early this morning.

Murkowski was in her “hideaway” when the mob first breached the outside barriers — her tiny satellite office at the Capitol each senator has. Hers is on a lower level, with windows that face the Mall. Her windows are temporarily blocked by risers erected for Biden’s inauguration, so her hideaway wasn’t vandalized like the ones on the levels above.

“I’ve got pictures of these huge, beautiful, rounded, curved windows that have been smashed in and all boarded up,” she said. “Glass everywhere. Furniture thrown wildly.”

She was in the Senate chamber when insurgents broke into the Capitol building. Senators were told to evacuate quickly.

“And that’s where it gets a little scary, because everyone is trying to move all at the same time.”

The senators and staff were directed to an underground tunnel in one of the Senate office buildings. In the mass of people, Murkowski saw Sen. Dan Sullivan a few steps ahead of her. She said she linked arms with him.

“We went hand-in-hand, running,” she said. “He’s pretty fit, and I was wearing good running shoes today, so we set the pace. We got to the secure area before anybody else.”

From there, they saw the violence and destruction unfold on video.

The violence was committed by Pro-Trump extremists, but their debunked belief that the election was “stolen” is common among Republican voters, and many are passionate about it.  Alaska’s congressional delegation has heard an earful from these constituents when they stray from Trump’s false claim of election fraud.

Wednesday, Repubican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah urged his colleagues to come clean.

“The best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth!”

None of Alaska’s delegation challenged any state’s electors.  Murkowski says there were problems in some parts of the country but nothing significant enough to change the election outcome.

“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been duly elected,” she said.

Sen. Dan Sullivan and U.S. Rep Don Young both denounced the violence at the Capitol but didn’t grant interviews. In a written statement, Sullivan said fraud allegations are resolved in court, and no court or state legislature found sufficient evidence to overturn any state’s election results. 

When Congress affirmed the Electoral College count this week, Young said in a written statement, “we respected the will of the voters, even if they did not vote the same way we did.”

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Liz here.

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