Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) “cheered” the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last year as his fellow lawmakers feared for their lives, said a former aide to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
Brooks had urged on then-President Donald Trump’s supporters at a National Mall rally just before they stormed the Capitol, telling them to be ready to make a “blood” sacrifice, just as Americans did during the Revolution. He also told them to march on the Capitol and said it was time “patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.” He was wearing body armor at the time.
Later, when a pro-Trump mob breached the Capitol, lawmakers on the House floor were “fearful for their lives. Republican members … men crying in the cloakroom for their safety,” former McCarthy aide Ryan O’Toole told Jake Tapper on Thursday on CNN.
“As we escaped the chamber — to what sounded like gunshots — to the secure location, I think people were still scared … and not sure what was happening,” added O’Toole, who’s now deputy policy director for Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), vice chair of the House select committee investigating the riot.
Not everyone had the same attitude, O’Toole noted.
“Mo Brooks, for example, was glad,” he added. “He was cheering on the fact that the 117th Congress started this way. That was much to the dismay of others in the room.”
Brooks denied in a statement to Alabama Political Reporter that he was cheering the attack.
He told AL.com that O’Toole’s account was “total bovine excrement” and suggested it was intended to harm his campaign for Senate this year. He added that O’Toole’s switch to Cheney’s staff “says a lot about why he lied.” Cheney has been criticized by fellow Republicans for not buying in to Trump’s lies about the 2020 election being stolen from him and for chastising the former president for inciting the mob attack last year based on those lies.
O’Toole told Tapper he changed employers because he wanted to work for someone who is “loyal to the Constitution.” He said McCarthy’s leadership “strategy is dictated by the most extreme wings of the party.”
Brooks also emphasized in a message to AL.com that he has previously called for prosecuting anyone involved in the insurrection who “violated the law.”
Ali Alexander, the key figure behind the Jan. 6 Stop the Steal rally, has said Brooks was one of three Republican congressmen who helped him plan the rally — which Brooks has denied. Alexander testified before the House select committee last month.
Check out O’Toole’s full interview in the video clip up top. He talks about fear on the House floor on Jan. 6 and Brooks’ “cheering” at 1:55. Brooks’ speech at the rally before the insurrection can be seen below: