A laptop computer belonging to the office of U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley from Oregon was one of several electronic devices stolen by Trump loyalists during a failed coup attempt on Wednesday, according to a new report from Politico. The news comes as the Department of Justice tries to make an assessment of the property stolen at the U.S. Capitol, which is believed to potentially include at least some sensitive national security information.
Lawmakers were forced to evacuate their offices quickly on Wednesday after President Donald Trump incited a riot, claiming that he would march with his followers down to the U.S. Capitol, where Congress was counting the electoral votes to certify Joe Biden as the next president. Trump did not join his followers, instead going back to the White House to watch the mayhem on TV.
Trump loyalists stormed the Capitol, beating security forces and breaking windows to gain entry. One insurrectionist was killed by U.S. Capitol police in the melee, but most rioters were able to roam freely in the Capitol, including inside of several Senate offices.
One security official even gave the invading traitors directions to Senator Chuck Schumer’s office, according to a new report from the New York Times:
Aaron, the construction worker from Indianapolis, and his two friends had heard people talking about going to Ms. Pelosi’s office. So once inside they decided to instead find Senator Chuck Schumer’s office. Both are Democrats.
“We wanted to have a few words” with Mr. Schumer, he said. “He’s probably the most corrupt guy up here. You don’t hear too much about him. But he’s slimy. You can just see it.”
But they could not find Mr. Schumer’s office. He said they asked a Capitol Police officer, who tried to direct them. But they appeared to have gotten nowhere near the minority’s leader’s office. They ended up smoking a few cigarettes inside the building — “We can smoke in our house,” Aaron said — and one of his friends, who would not give his name, joked that he had gone to the bathroom and not flushed.
Viral videos and photos from Wednesday showed people stealing things from Congressional offices, and one photo showed Nancy Pelosi’s computer open and accessible with emails.
The Chief Administrative Officer of the House sent an email out Thursday insisting that there are “no indications” that the House network has been compromised, but they’re continuing to monitor the situation. The office is also advising members of Congress to do a full accounting of their IT equipment and not to use any removable media device that may have been available to the insurrectionists. The concern, of course, is that USB devices may have been compromised in a way that can grant outsiders access even after the intruders left.
There’s also the concern that listening devices could have been planted in different offices at the U.S. Capitol, according to Democrats who are trying to pick up the pieces.
“We have to do a full review of what was taken, or copied, or even left behind in terms of bugs and listening devices, etc.,” Rep. Ruben Gallego, a Democrat from Arizona, told Politico.
President Trump has always been a threat to U.S. national security ever since he was sworn in on January 20, 2017. But we may not have a full accounting of the damage done to U.S. interests for generations if we can’t understand precisely what was taken during the raid on the Capitol on Wednesday.