Eric Swalwell says that the House Chaplain's prayer for peace during the Jan. 6 riot 'felt like last rites'

·2 min read
Ruben Gallego Capitol Hill building siege attack riot
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), standing on a seat, directs traffic as staffers and House members get safety hoods from under desks as insurrectionists breach the Capitol building on January 6, 2021. Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images
  • In his new book, Rep. Eric Swalwell described the scene inside the House chamber on Jan. 6.

  • "I knew it was Trump's fault," he wrote. "But I also knew that this was not the moment to litigate that point."

  • Swalwell said that he was "shaken" by the House Chaplain's unsolicited prayer during the siege.

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In his new book, "Endgame: Inside the Impeachments of Donald J. Trump," Rep. Eric Swalwell of California gave a riveting account of the environment inside the House chamber during the violent insurrection that was unfolding right outside its doors on January 6.

The Democratic congressman said that overall, members were "poised and did not panic," despite the intensity of the unfolding situation.

However, in one tense moment, a Democratic member yelled at a Republican colleague, blaming former President Donald Trump and his supporters for inciting the attack.

However, most of the members came together to tell those involved in the back-and-forth to stop.

"I knew it was Trump's fault," Swalwell wrote. "I knew many Republicans had contributed to inflaming the mob. But I also knew that this was not the moment to litigate that point."

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Minutes later, the congressman was struck by House Chaplain Margaret G. Kibben approaching the lower lectern on the House floor to offer a prayer for peace during the increasingly dire situation.

"That's what got me: Not the images on my phone - because I falsely believed the building was secured. Not Speaker Pelosi being ushered out - because I assumed that such a move was just precautionary. ... But when Chaplain Kibben offered her unsolicited prayer, I was shaken."

Kibben, a Presbyterian minister, tended to the spiritual needs of Marines and sailors for over three decades as a military chaplain.

He added: "I knew she had served in Afghanistan and had a decorated career spanning more than three decades. I figured she had seen a lot. That she was praying, from a lectern that only a select few people are permitted to use, hit me. It felt like last rites."

After the prayer, members were told that police had devised an evacuation route, which allowed them to escape from the House chamber to a secure location at the Capitol complex.

Read the original article on Business Insider