Granted only 30 seconds to speak on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Anna Eshoo did not mince words regarding President Donald Trump during Wednesday's impeachment hearing.
On Jan. 13, Trump was impeached on a charge of inciting an insurrection on Jan. 6 after speaking at a rally where hundreds of supporters and right-wing extremists marched to the U.S. Capitol where both houses of Congress were voting to certify the election of Joe Biden and stormed the building. Five people died as a result of the insurrection, including one U.S. Capitol police officer. The chaos included beatings of law enforcement officers, threats against congressional leaders and the ransacking of legislators' offices, according to law enforcement officials. A gallows was erected outside, and many of the rioters carried weapons ranging from bear spray to metal pipes.
Representatives, senators, staffers and journalists were forced into hiding for hours before Vice President Mike Pence approved sending in the National Guard after Trump allegedly declined to intervene, multiple news agencies have reported.
Eshoo said in an interview while in hiding from rioters on Jan. 6 that she would immediately vote to impeach Trump, and expanded on her reasons for supporting Trump's removal after the historic vote on Wednesday.
"Future generations are not going to know the names of each member who is voting in the chamber today, but they will know what we did and why. We must impeach the president because he incited a mob that attacked the Capitol of the United States, the tabernacle of our democracy. He is incapable of honoring his oath and our Constitution, and he has proven to be unfit and dangerous. I will vote to impeach this traitor to our country," she said.
The House voted 232-197 for impeachment, with 10 Republicans joining the majority. The articles of impeachment could now be forwarded to the Senate for a hearing and vote on whether to convict Trump.
During a phone interview on Wednesday afternoon, Eshoo said the mood in the Capitol is "somber."
"Make no mistake about it. What took place a week ago today was historic. There has never been a domestic attack in the Capitol," she said. "They came to kill and they did."
Eshoo called for an in-depth investigation. Several factors suggest there was cooperation from the inside, but authorities investigating the breach and insurrection have not identified whether there was cooperation from inside the Capitol police or the Sergeant at Arms Office or elsewhere, she said.
"There has to be a broad and deep investigation. There was a massive failure, not just a security failure. We were defenseless," she said.
This week, the nation's capital is fortified for any potential assault in the days before Biden's inauguration.
"Look out the window — it's an armed camp. There are 10,000 to 15,000 security agents," she said.
While some of her Republican colleagues called for healing after the attack, Eshoo said they must engage in more than mere words.
"You have to have accountability before you can heal. You have to accept the facts. We owe it to the American people," she said.
Eshoo thinks the effort to remove Trump from office is gaining momentum, perhaps even among Republicans. Of a Senate trial and conviction, she believes "they will and they should."
The argument that a Senate trial is too time-consuming is belied by how swiftly Amy Coney-Barrett's confirmation hearing was accomplished.
"Anyone complaining and saying it's gonna take time … you confirmed a justice of the Supreme Court in a matter of hours over five days," Eshoo said.
The experience of last week's riot for all of the legislators in both houses was not abstract. They didn't hear about the insurrection over the phone or read about it from a piece of paper. "They experienced it themselves," she said.
If the Senate does vote to convict Trump, whether he can pardon himself remains a question, she said. The Constitution grants the president the ability to pardon someone else, but it's an open question whether that would apply to a president pardoning him or herself, she said.
If the Senate doesn't convict Trump, he will still face a host of charges across the legal spectrum, including questionable financial dealings in New York and possibly his alleged attempts to illegally overturn the state's presidential vote in Georgia, she said.
Eshoo voted to ask Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, which would have removed Trump from office with the approval of a majority of his cabinet on grounds that he is unfit or unable to carry out his duties. Pence would then have taken over the presidency. The House approved the resolution on Tuesday night, although Pence had said in a letter hours earlier that he does not intend to invoke the amendment.
Eshoo's first preference was to see the president resign, she said.
"It would be the best thing for the American people. They could take a deep breath" and feel safe before the transfer of power, she said.
As legislators wrestle with Trump's possible conviction, efforts to avoid disrupting the work of the incoming president and the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, Eshoo said she is concerned about the future.
But "I have faith we can do more than one thing at a time," she said.
The pandemic, and moving vaccines forward, is a paramount concern as new record numbers of infections and deaths are made every day.
"We need to do everything we can to fight this tiger to the ground," she said.
When Biden takes power, Eshoo said she hopes he will put the Defense Production Act in place to rapidly ramp up vaccine production and that the federal government will make sure to help small businesses and local governments. Eshoo, who was once on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, said she understands what they face.
"Our states and local governments really need help. They have exhausted their rainy day funds," she said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also taken "a horrible toll" on small businesses, said Eshoo, who understands the challenge on a personal level: Her father owned a jewelry business.
"I told my sister, 'Imagine if Daddy still had his business. He would've lost it,'" she said.