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He was within shouting distance of the rioters who were trying to get inside. 

“I had my Texas mask on, and he looked at me through that broken glass, and he said: ‘You’re from Texas. You should be with us.’ … And at that point I said: ‘No, sir, I cannot support what you’re doing. This is criminal.’”

Nehls believes he was there to help hold off the rioters thanks to “a little divine intervention.”

“I’m a man of faith, and I believe He had me there at that time for that purpose,” he said. 

Over the last year, he has committed himself to understanding what led to the violence that day — “there were many, many mistakes that were made” — while drawing a controversial distinction that not everyone who infiltrated the Capitol was there to wreak havoc. 

“No, I don’t believe it was a day of tourist activity,” as some other Republicans have said, “but I don’t believe that many of the people that went inside that Capitol were there to harm law enforcement,” Nehls said. “Some did, I don’t dispute that, but I believe it was a small percentage.” 

Democratic Rep. Sara Jacobs

Sara Jacobs still can’t watch videos of the Jan. 6 riot with the sound on.

“There’s this buzzing that I will never forget,” she said, describing the sound that came from the gas hood she wore in the chamber. “It’s all-consuming, because you have this hood on, and it’s like all you can hear.”

Before she was elected to Congress, Jacobs worked for the State Department and the United Nations. She never thought that one of her first times in the House Chamber would be where she would come the closest to dying. 

Jan. 6 was far from the day she had planned. 

Jacobs had gone to the Capitol that morning ready to certify an election, learn her way around her new workplace and bask in the glow of Democrats’ control of Congress — making plans to hold a toast with fellow freshmen in honor of the Democrats’ Senate victories in Georgia.

Instead, as rioters neared the House chamber, she huddled in the second-floor balcony overlooking the floor, pulling the gas hood onto her head while simultaneously introducing herself to her new co-workers. 

Jacobs said her instincts as a millennial who came of age in the era of mass shootings kicked in when law enforcement officers evacuated them from the chamber. She was convinced that there could be a gun around every corner. 

A year later, she fears that Jan. 6 was a harbinger, a flashpoint for a struggling democracy like those she had previously studied as an outsider looking in. “I feel like a lot of people believe that January 6th was the end,” she said, “and I believe January 6th was the beginning.”

She is keenly aware that the way she began her congressional tenure is virtually unique.

“When you first start in Congress, they say, ‘Whenever you stop feeling that feeling inside of seeing the Capitol Dome, that’s when you need to leave Congress,’” Jacobs said. “And I’m sitting here like, well, they tried to kill me here on my fourth day. Of course I don’t feel the same kinds of warm and fuzzies about this place. That is where I came closest to I’ve ever felt to dying.”

Source: This post first appeared on NBC News

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