- Representative Abigail Spanberger was concerned about possible violence in the days leading up to January 6, 2021.
- She warned Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that she was “a very recognizable target,” a new book says.
- She urged the progressive lawmaker to “wear trainers, dress casual – don’t look like you”.
A former intelligence officer, Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, raised concerns about possible violence in the days leading up to Jan. 6, 2021.
At the time, supporters of then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to nullify the election planned to demonstrate outside the US Capitol that day as Congress carried out a typically pro forma task, certifying Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election.
Spanberger worried that her fellow Democrats were being targeted, and she was particularly concerned about “highly recognizable progressive women,” including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and others who had been “demonized by the right,” according to a forthcoming book “This Shall Not Pass,” by New York Times reporters Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin. Insider obtained an advance copy of the book ahead of its release on Tuesday.
The Virginia Democrat called Ocasio-Cortez to urge her to take precautions, a notable move given that the two women represent “the enormous divide within the Democratic Party” between centrists and leftists, respectively, wrote Burns and Martin.
“You’re a very recognizable target,” Spanberger told Ocasio-Cortez. “Drive to work and make sure you dress in a way that’s less recognizable than you might be.”
“Put on sneakers, dress casual, don’t look like yourself,” she told the authors.
Ocasio-Cortez later told CNN she feared she could be raped and killed on Jan. 6 as pro-Trump insurgents raped the U.S. Capitol in their failed attempts to void the election.
“White supremacy and patriarchy are very connected in many ways,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN’s Dana Bash. “There’s a lot of sexualization of this violence, and I didn’t think I was just going to be killed. I thought other things were going to happen to me as well.”
In an essay for The 19th, Spanberger gave a gripping account of being on Capitol Hill that day — and arriving prepared.
“I had anticipated that it might be a day of heightened engagement, so I had dressed accordingly, in pants,” she said. “Old CIA mentality. If necessary, I could be indistinguishable by simply taking off my blazer.”
She even joked with her husband in text messages about her hair in a ponytail, “which, to me, means I’m ready to fight.”
A spokesperson for Spanberger told Insider that the lawmaker’s experience with the CIA “brings a unique perspective to Congress.”
“In the days leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, Rep. Spanberger was concerned about the potential for violence around the Capitol. She had conversations with several colleagues about security, in case the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally fueled by the conspiracy theory would become dangerous,” the spokeswoman said in a statement, adding that the lawmaker had extended the advice to “dress casual” to her office staff.
“When the uprising unfolded on January 6 and Rep. Spanberger got stuck with other members of the House Gallery, she continued to offer advice, such as asking her colleagues to remove their pins from the Congress,” the spokesperson said.
A spokesperson for Ocasio-Cortez did not return Insider’s request for comment.