As the US Capitol was under siege on 6 January, about a dozen Republican senators hid in a storage closet – not from the intruders, a new report says, but from their Democratic colleagues.
According to a Washington Post interview with Senator Tommy Tuberville, the GOP lawmakers were already in a secure room when they decided to huddle in the closet. What they were seeking was not safety, but privacy, so they could plot their next move in light of the insurrection.
“You’ve got 25 seconds to call a play,” Mr Tuberville, a former football coach, recalled to the Post. “You can’t call a bunch of timeouts.”
For these senators, the original plan that day was to challenge the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory in several states, in support of Donald Trump’s baseless efforts to overturn the results.
But now that hundreds of violent marauders were demanding the same thing, the Republicans in the closet worried that solidarity with the mob might not be a good look.
“One thing that was brought up was that people were hurt,” Mr Tuberville said.
Besides, the senators knew they didn’t have the votes to stop Mr Biden from becoming president.
“Do we want to continue this,” Mr Tuberville remembered wondering, “if there’s not going to be a result we are looking for anyway?”
Others worried about the toll their actions might take on the country.
“I do remember saying we have to pull the country together,” recalled Senator James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma. “We are so exceptionally divided that it’s spilling into the building.”
Those speeches didn’t register with Mr Tuberville.
“I didn’t really listen to them,” he told the Post.
In the end, the Alabama Republican cast these concerns aside and voted against certifying the vote in Arizona and Pennsylvania, two states won by Mr Biden.
“I wasn’t voting for me, I was voting for the people of Alabama,” Mr Tuberville said. “President Trump has an 80 per cent approval there. I told them, ‘I’m going to vote how you want me to vote.’”
In Alabama, a huge majority of voters cast their ballots for Mr Trump in 2020. However, that was not the case in Arizona and Pennsylvania, where more people voted for Mr Biden. An “audit” of the vote in Arizona, organized by State Senate Republicans, confirmed Mr Biden’s victory there.
Since January, Mr Tuberville has said he doesn’t think fraud was responsible for Mr Trump’s election loss, and has called the former president’s election conspiracy rhetoric a “mistake.” But that doesn’t mean he’d take his vote back.
“I have no regrets,” the senator said.