- On Jan. 6, senators were evacuated together from the Senate chamber to an undisclosed secure location.
- But Sen. Angus King, citing COVID, left the location and opted to hide in his office instead.
- Several members of Congress later tested positive for COVID after sheltering together for hours.
Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with Democrats, opted to hide in his office rather than the designated secure location on January 6 out of fear of catching COVID. Several members of congress later tested positive for the virus after sheltering with unmasked Republicans.
King's remarks were first reported in Insider's oral history of January 6, based on interviews with 34 people – including lawmakers, journalists, law enforcement, Capitol Hill staff, and others – who lived through the riot at the Capitol that day.
As the mob drew closer to breaching the Senate chamber, senators were swiftly evacuated together down a back stairwell and taken to an undisclosed secure location in the Capitol complex.
"I walked in the room – and this was at the height of COVID – huge room, full of people, some of whom had masks on, some not," King said. According to the senator, he declared "I'm not staying in here" upon arriving at the room, to which a police officer responded, "well, senator, you must."
"The hell I am," Angus told the officer before leaving and going to his own office in the Hart Senate Office Building.
King wasn't the only lawmaker who was in his office rather than the secure location. Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Marco Rubio, as well as Rep. Carolyn Maloney, told Insider that they largely stayed in their offices during that day.
"I never left Russell," said Rubio, referring to the Russell Senate Office Building.
A similar evacuation took place on the House side, with lawmakers confined to a crowded room together. Punchbowl News published a video from inside the room, where Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester attempted to hand masks to Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Andy Biggs, Scott Perry, Michael Cloud and Markwayne Mullin, all of whom were maskless.
Several other members of Congress also tested positive after the attack, including Reps. Lou Correa, Adriano Espaillat, Brad Schneider, and Bonnie Watson Coleman.
Check out the full January 6 oral history here.