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Urging Lawmakers To Act, Rep. Torres Recalls 'Running For My Life' During Riot

Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif., seen here during a hearing in 2019, urged her colleagues on Tuesday to support a resolution calling on Vice President Pence to remove Trump from office via the 25th Amendment.
Jacquelyn Martin
Pool/AFP via Getty Images
Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif., seen here during a hearing in 2019, urged her colleagues on Tuesday to support a resolution calling on Vice President Pence to remove Trump from office via the 25th Amendment.

Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif., shared a harrowing account of her experience at the U.S. Capitol last week, as she fled a violent mob of pro-Trump extremists who breached the building.

"I was 1 of 12 trapped in the House gallery. I heard the shot being fired. I saw the smoke from the tear gas having been deployed," she recounted during a House rules committee meeting Tuesday.

"I was in the last group to be evacuated. We ran down the halls, stairs near a mob that was being held on the ground at gunpoint. I sheltered for four to five hours in a room that was packed shoulder-to-shoulder with people."

She added: "While running for my life, I answered my phone to my son Christopher," she described, emotionally. "The call lasted 27 seconds. All I could say, 'Sweetheart, I'm OK. I'm running for my life,' and I hung up."

Torres urged her Republican colleagues to support a measurethat will be voted on later on Tuesday that calls on Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, declaring Trump incapable of executing his duties.

"There is no debate as to who misled those people, who sent them here to ravage our Capitol, who it was who undermined our American democracy. President Trump, that's who it was," Torres said. "He called for insurrection on social media, on a stage with television cameras capturing his every word. I'm saddened that my colleagues will dare to stand on that stage, and do the same."

Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan pushed back on the Democratic-led effort, which has some Republican support.

"Congress needs to stop this. This effort to remove the president from office just one week before he is set to leave, continued calls to impeach the president or remove him from office using the 25th amendment — I don't think are healthy for our nation," Jordan said in Tuesday's hearing.

The resolution before the House on the 25th Amendment, and the article of impeachment drafted against Trump, both cite his repeated false claims of widespread election fraud as part of the motivator for last week's insurrection.

Jordan, who has also raised questions about alleged irregularities, was repeatedly pressed in Tuesday's hearing to affirm that the election was not rigged against Trump.

Jordan repeatedly dodged the question and instead persisted with questioning some of the election processes in various states, "Of course I understand Joe Biden won, but are you saying there are no concerns in this election?"

Despite intense criticism of Trump's response to the insurrection, Trump has expressed no regret for his comments on Jan. 6 that many lawmakers blame for inciting his supporters to breach the Capitol while Congress was tallying the Electoral College votes from the Nov. 3 election.

Torres argued the resolution on the 25th Amendment is not a "political document" and said, "anyone who says otherwise is being irresponsible and is continuing to advance a hateful agenda of Donald Trump."

"Ask yourselves: Is gunfire in the speaker's lobby a new normal that you're willing to accept? Should ransacked offices be part of the job, going forward, a relic from our time in service that future members will have to deal with? And if it's not, ask yourselves, what are you willing to do about it? Do you have the courage to stand up for basic American principles?"

Torres pointed to impending protests in Washington, D.C., and state capitols across the country during the week of the presidential inauguration and said Pence taking the step of invoking the 25th amendment "cannot come soon enough."

"I urge Vice President Pence, to do the right thing, not for you, sir, not for me, not for anyone of us here in Congress. But for the future of America, we are counting on you to do the right thing and invoke the 25th Amendment."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.
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