In a newly released interview about his experience inside the House chamber during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, Rep. Markwayne Mullin said Democrats and the media share in the blame for the insurrectionists' violent attempt to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 election.
"This was a very dark day in American history that should have never, ever, ever happened, and all of us, all of us are to blame on this one," Mullin told C-SPAN's Greta Brawner in an interview that aired Sunday as part of a series of conversations with lawmakers at the Capitol that day.
"I mean Republicans, Democrats, the media, the administration, all of us, because we have to learn a different way to debate," Mullin said. "What we use as politicians and as media is little key phrases, little key things to get people aroused, to get people excited, to get peoples' attention. The problem is we do that so much that it turns into anger. And this went too far. This was something that'd been bubbling too long."
As recently as the evening of Jan. 5, Mullin was suggesting to constituents on a telephone town hall that he did not believe the election Trump lost was "honest," and that there was a chance that House and Senate backers of Trump's false claims of election fraud could succeed at the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress in denying the certification of now-President Joe Biden's win.
The attack the following day was carried out by extremists loyal to Trump who wished to prevent Biden's legitimate victory from being certified, some of whom said they intended to execute House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence.
Mullin told C-SPAN that during the attack, he positioned himself near a set of doors being battered by the rioters because he believed he could be "an asset" to law enforcement as they barricaded the House chamber from the pro-Trump attackers.
"I know I was prepared, I know the people that was with me was prepared to do whatever it took to stop them," Mullin said.
"You didn't, though, Congressman, have a weapon," Brawner said.
"You don't always have to have a weapon to do certain things," Mullin, a former professional mixed martial artist, responded.
Throughout the interview, Mullin refers multiple times to having acquired situational knowledge of how to respond to scenarios similar to the Capitol insurrection from time spent "overseas."
"I've been in these situations before, unfortunately -- similar, nothing exactly the same," Mullin said.
"Can you explain, for people who don't know your background?" Brawner asked.
"I'd prefer not to, and I'm sorry, I just don't want to get into that," Mullin said, before proceeding with his recollection of events and referencing his "overseas" experiences again without expounding further. (Mullin was a business owner and mixed martial artist before his time in Congress.)
Mullin defended an unnamed law enforcement lieutenant he says he saw shoot insurrectionist Ashli Babbitt, a member of the attacking crowd killed when she attempted to climb through a broken window to get closer to members of Congress.
"He did not want to use lethal force at all. This guy is later in his career," Mullin said. "I guarantee you -- I don't know for a fact, but I guarantee you he's never had to pull his weapon in a manner like that before. He was the last person in the world to ever want to use force like that, and he wasn't wanting to do that. I know for a fact, because after it happened, he came over and he was physically and emotionally distraught and I actually gave him a hug and said, 'Sir, you did what you had to do, and I mean that.'"
Trump has called the slain insurrectionist Babbitt an "innocent, wonderful, incredible woman" and hinted at something sinister at play in her killing, and Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.) has said Babbitt was an Air Force vet whose killing raised unanswered questions.
Mullin voted twice against formal House investigations into the insurrection: in May, he voted against creating an independent, nonpartisan commission modeled after the 9/11 Commission; in June, he voted against the creation of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the Capitol of the United States, which convened for its first hearing Tuesday morning.