U.S. Capitol Police
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Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York was caught on video pulling a fire alarm in a Capitol office building on Saturday shortly before a House vote to avert a government shutdown. The progressive politician and member of the so-called "Squad" is offering an explanation as to why he triggered the fire alarm – but many aren't buying it.
Ahead of the critical House vote to avoid a government shutdown, Bowman is seen pulling a fire alarm at the Cannon House Office Building on Saturday afternoon.
Bowman – a principal for more than 10 years – claimed that he set off the fire alarm because he believed it would open a door.
"Today, as I was rushing to make a vote, I came to a door that is usually open for votes but today would not open," Bowman said in a statement. "I'm embarrassed to admit that I activated the fire alarm, mistakenly thinking it would open the door."
Bowman asserted that his actions were not "in any way trying to delay any vote," adding, "It was the exact opposite — I was trying urgently to get to a vote, which I did."
The Democrat said he met with the Sergeant at Arms and the Capitol Police at their request following the incident.
He concluded, "My hope is that no one will make more of this than it was."
However, many are saying that Bowman may have committed crimes by pulling the fire alarm during the critical vote in Congress. Bowman's actions were compared to non-violent participants of the January 6 Capitol riot.
Lawyer Harmeet K. Dhillon: "Whoever put this statement out, or gave legal advice on it, or tried to cover it up with lies, is part of a criminal conspiracy to interfere with the operations of our revered Congress. RICO charges for all involved! Isn’t that how it works?"
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah): "Does anyone believe the 'I thought the fire alarm would open the door' line?"
Journalist Jake Sherman: "For those who work on Capitol Hill — or even those who don’t — this makes no sense. 1) have you in your life ever activated a fire alarm in a large public building to open a door? 2) there are tunnels that take you from this building straight to the Capitol. It’s very easy. I do it daily."
Commentator Siraj Hashmi: "Congressman Jamaal Bowman, who doesn’t give his political opponents the benefit of the doubt, is asking his political opponents to give him the benefit of the doubt."
Lawyer David Freiheit: "There is a photo from security footage, so obviously there is a video. Can we see the video to see if confirms or contradicts @JamaalBowmanNY’s version of events? Because committing a misdemeanor to impede Congress could land him in jail. For a very, very long time. No one is above the law, after all. Right?"
Political correspondent Byron York: "'Whoever corruptly...obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so.' Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman set off fire alarm to disrupt House work on averting a government shutdown. Triggered evacuation of House office building."
Journalist Julie Kelly: "Rep. Bowman clearly violated numerous laws including 1512(c)(2) obstruction of an official proceeding. At least 320 Jan 6 defendants including Donald Trump have been charged with this felony count. This includes defendants who didn’t enter the building."
Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) told Fox News: "That any member of Congress would think it’s appropriate to pull a fire alarm to try and delay Congress from doing its business is shameful, it’s unbecoming, and he should strongly consider resigning from Congress if he did that."
Journalist John Hasson posted photos of the exit area where Bowman pulled the alarm.
There is no button to open the doors, they must be opened manually.
There is a bright red sign indicating that this exit is an "EMERGENCY EXIT ONLY."
At one point, there were two red signs on the doors that read: "EMERGENCY EXIT ONLY PUSH UNTIL ALARM SOUNDS (3 SECONDS) DOOR WILL UNLOCK IN 30 SECONDS."
The two signs on the door don't appear in the photo from the moment that Bowman pulled the fire alarm.
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Paul Sacca is a staff writer for Blaze News.