Her face was flushed, and she was dabbing her eyes with a towel.
“What happened to you?” CNN correspondent Michael Holmes asked.
“I got maced,” she said.
“So what happened?” Holmes asked. “You were trying to go inside the Capitol?”
“Yeah,” she said. “I made it like a foot inside, and they pushed me out, and they maced me.”
She could have been your daughter or your neighbor down the street. She looked like an average American visiting her nation’s capital.
Her name was Elizabeth, she said, and she was from Knoxville, Tennessee.
Why had she tried to enter the building? For her anyway, the answer seemed obvious.
“We’re storming the Capitol,” she said. “It’s a revolution!”
The election had been stolen from her president, and she had traveled hundreds of miles to take it back.
She and thousands of others were there at the invitation of President Donald J. Trump.
“All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by emboldened radical Democrats,” the president told Elizabeth and the others. “We will never give up. We will never concede. It will never happen. You don’t concede when there’s death involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore.”
He issued a call to action.
“We’re going to walk down to the Capitol,” he said, “and we’re gonna cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women. And we’re probably not going to be cheering, so much for some of them, because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong,”
The president, of course, did not walk to the Capitol. He went back to the White House to watch it all unfold on television.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his colleagues set about the task of certifying the election results.
“The Constitution gives us here in Congress a limited role,” McConnell said. “We cannot simply declare ourselves a national board of elections on steroids. The voters, the courts and the states have all spoken. They’ve all spoken. If we overrule them, it would damage our republic forever.”
His words might have come a little late. By then, the fuse had been lit, and soon, McConnell and his fellow lawmakers would be evacuated from the chamber.
Later, after authorities had restored order, U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, a longtime critic of the president, stood before his fellow lawmakers to voice his frustration.
“We gather today due to a selfish man’s injured pride and the outrage of his supporters whom he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months and stirred to action this very morning,” he said. “What happened here today was an insurrection, incited by the president of the United States.”
Romney spoke against calls from some of his fellow Republicans for an audit of the election results.
“Please!” he said. “No congressionally led audit will ever convince those voters, particularly when the president will continue to claim that the election was stolen. The best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth.”
Many of his colleagues stood and applauded the words of the former Republican presidential candidate.
There were other signs of hope amid the chaos. In his remarks before the riot began, McConnell had said it was time for Americans to come together.
“We cannot keep drifting apart into two separate tribes with a separate set of facts and separate realities,” he said, “with nothing in common except our hostility towards each other and mistrust for the few national institutions that we all still share.”
If he had spoken out sooner, could McConnell have reached someone like Elizabeth? Is there a chance he still can?