June 5, 2023

Ever since New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez described on Instagram Live on Monday what the January 6 riot was at the Capitol Complex, critics have claimed she wasn’t where she said she was or that she couldn’t find out what she was described from their location.

These claims are wrong.

While Ms. Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t in the main dome building when the rioters broke it, she never said it was her. It described exactly how it was located in the Cannon House Office Building, which is part of the Capitol complex and is connected to the main building by tunnels.

On her livestream, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez remembered hiding in a bathroom and thought she was going to die when strangers walked into her office and shouted, “Where is she?” It turned out to be police officers of the Capitol who had not been clearly identified, and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said so on Instagram. She didn’t claim they were rioters – just that from their hiding place at first she thought they were.

During the riot, reporters wrote on Twitter that the cannon building had been evacuated due to credible threats and that Capitol police officers were running down the hallways and entering offices, just as Ms. Ocasio-Cortez described it.

The false claims about their testimony have spread widely online. Much of the backlash resulted from an article on the conservative RedState blog and a livestream from right-wing commentator Steven Crowder. South Carolina Republican Representative Nancy Mace tweeted Thursday, “I’m two doors down from @aoc and no insurgents stormed our hallway.”

But Ms. Ocasio-Cortez never said that insurgents stormed this hallway, and Ms. Mace herself described that she was scared enough to barricade her own door.

“When the Capitol complex was stormed and people were killed, none of us knew at the moment which areas were being compromised,” tweeted Ms. Ocasio-Cortez in response to Ms. Mace’s post. (A spokeswoman for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said lawmakers had no additional comment.)

Others have confirmed Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s report and confirmed that the cannon building was threatened, even though the rioters ultimately did not harm it.

Ari Rabin-Havt, deputy manager of Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, tweeted that he was in the Capitol tunnels during the attack. As Mr. Rabin-Havt approached the cannon building, members of a SWAT team yelled at him to try to find a place to hide.

And California Democrat Rep Katie Porter said on MSNBC that she and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez sought refuge in Ms. Porter’s office in another building after the cannon building was evacuated. She said Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was clearly frightened, opened cupboards to find hiding spots, and wished loudly that she had worn flats instead of heels in case she had to run.

Jacob Silver contributed to the coverage.