Jamie Raskin, the US congressman leading the impeachment prosecution against former president Donald Trump, described on Tuesday how family members who'd come with him to work feared for their lives when a mob stormed the Capitol.
Raskin, whose son had committed suicide only days before the terrifying events of January 6, paused several times to hold back tears as he stated the Democrats' case for impeaching Trump on the charge of inciting the deadly riot.
"There was a sound I will never forget -- the sound of pounding on the door like a battering ram, the most haunting sound I ever heard," Raskin said as he described how hundreds of Trump supporters broke into the Capitol building, forcing lawmakers to rush into hiding.
January 6 was Raskin's first day back at work following the suicide of his son on New Year's Eve.
Raskin had taken his younger daughter Tabitha and his older daughter Hannah's husband, Hank, with him to the Capitol to watch as Congress ratified Joe Biden's election win.
He told them that even though Trump had called on supporters to protest, the Capitol would be safe.
Raskin said colleagues from both parties gave him words of comfort early in the day. "Lots of Republicans, lots of Democrats came to see me. And I felt a sense of being lifted up from the agony," he said.
The 58-year-old Marylander said Tabitha and Hank watched him deliver a speech on the Senate floor. They then returned to the office of Steny Hoyer, a fellow Maryland Democrat.
Shortly after, the pro-Trump mob smashed its way into the Capitol.
By the time lawmakers learned what was happening, it was too late for Raskin to join his family. "I couldn't get out to be there with them in (Hoyer's) office," he said.
He described "the kids hiding under the desk, placing what they thought were their final texts and whispered phone calls to say their goodbyes. They thought they were going to die."
All three eventually escaped unharmed, he said, and he hugged his daughter and apologized, promising it would be different the next time she came to Congress. "She said, 'Dad, I don't want to come back to the Capitol.'"
Raskin paused, then continued: "Of all the terrible brutal things I saw and I heard on that day, and since then, that one hit me the hardest.
"That, and watching someone use an American flagpole, the flag still on it, to spear and pummel one of our police officers ruthlessly, mercilessly, tortured by a pole with a flag on it that he was defending."
"Senators, this cannot be our future," Raskin added as he concluded opening statements against Trump, imploring lawmakers to hold the former leader accountable.