Until Wednesday’s impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump for inciting the deadly attack on the Capitol, Romney was unaware that the man who possibly saved his life was Eugene Goodman — the same Capitol Police officer already lauded as a hero from an earlier video showing him luring the mob away from the Senate chamber.
“I was very fortunate indeed that Officer Goodman was there to get me in the right direction,” Romney told reporters on Wednesday.
The newly released surveillance footage of Romney and Goodman’s encounter has brought the officer back into the spotlight, showing he did more to save lawmakers’ lives than previously known and renewing praise as a “hero” from several members of Congress.
“Officer Eugene Goodman’s heroic actions on Jan 6th saved countless lives & prevented a violent mob from breaching the Senate Chamber,” Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) tweeted Wednesday. “We all owe him a debt of gratitude.”
Goodman, a 40-year-old D.C. native, is a decorated military veteran who served in the Army from 2002 to 2006. He first made national headlines when a video taken by HuffPost political reporter Igor Bobic went viral following the insurrection. The footage shows Goodman, who is Black, facing off against a mob of mostly White rioters. On two separate occasions, Goodman retreated up the stairs and lured the angry crowd away from the Senate chamber where lawmakers were sheltering.
Goodman has not publicly spoken about his experiences on Jan. 6 but garnered widespread praise for his quick thinking and bravery. On Jan. 14, a bipartisan group of lawmakers said they would introduce a bill to award Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the highest awards an American civilian can receive.
Goodman, who was named the new acting deputy Senate sergeant-at-arms on Inauguration Day, was in the Senate Chamber on Wednesday as House impeachment managers laid out their case over several hours of tense arguments. The managers played several clips of previously unreleased security footage inside the Capitol on the day of the siege, including a video of Vice President Mike Pence being evacuated and scenes of what police officers endured as the mob overtook the building.
As the managers played the footage of Romney and Goodman, the senator could be seen “blinking rapidly” and “watching intently,” according to a pool report. Goodman stood by a doorway in a navy suit, pink necktie and black mask with a blue stripe as it played.
After learning that Goodman was the officer who directed him away from the mob, Romney told reporters that he looked forward to thanking him. When the trial resumed later on Wednesday, Romney could be seen talking to the officer.
“I expressed my appreciation to him for coming to my aid and getting me back into the path of safety and expressed my appreciation for all that he did that day,” Romney told reporters.
Romney added that Goodman told him about his experience on Jan. 6 and that he was exhausted and nauseated from breathing in bear spray and tear gas.
“It was obviously very troubling to see the great violence that our Capitol Police and others were subjected to,” Romney said. “It tears at your heart and brings tears to your eyes. That was overwhelmingly distressing and emotional.”
Had Goodman not directed Romney to turn and run, the senator would have encountered an angry, violent mob. One day before the riots, Trump supporters headed to D.C. harassed Romney for not supporting Trump’s false claims that the election was rigged.
Romney is one of six GOP senators who voted to go forward with the impeachment trial.
In response to the video, Matt Romney, one of the senator’s sons, expressed his gratitude for Goodman’s actions.
“We appreciate your bravery and service, Officer Eugene Goodman!!” Matt Romney tweeted.
“It’s even more clear as we review the footage today that Officer Eugene Goodman’s bravery saved lives,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) tweeted. “I’m proud to cosponsor the bill to award him with the Congressional Gold Medal. The Senate and our country owe him an eternal debt.”
Others commended the police officer for his courage.
“I am in wonder at his alertness and bravery,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) tweeted. “This could have been so much worse.”
Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) praised Goodman’s various actions, which likely saved the lives of several lawmakers.
“The world knows about Officer Goodman’s heroism,” Crist tweeted. “Now we know his quick action saved our nation from even more horror.”
Amy B Wang and Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.