This Ex-Cop Says He Only Stormed the Capitol to Check Out the Art

At least that’s what he told federal agents before he was arrested.
January 22, 2021, 4:28pm
A photo federal investigators found on Tam Dinh Pham's phone that shows him holding a "Trump 2020" sign inside the ​U.S. Capitol Building.
A photo federal investigators found on Tam Dinh Pham's phone that shows him holding a "Trump 2020" sign inside the U.S. Capitol Building. 

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While attending to non-Trump-related business in Washington, D.C., on January 6, former Houston police officer Tam Dinh Pham figured, what the hell, why not stop by the Capitol Building, which was being violently broken into at the time, to check out some “historical art.”

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At least that’s what he told federal agents during an interview January 12, according to court documents. Two days later, he resigned from his post at the Houston Police Department, after 18 years on the force.

Pham initially tried to explain away his alleged involvement in the riots that resulted in the death of five Americans. But federal investigators quickly uncovered his lies and arrested him for unlawful entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds on Wednesday.

Pham said that he was in the nation’s capital between January 5 and 7 to help with his wife’s cooking business, but that he never entered the legislative building. After letting agents look through his phone, however, they found photos and videos of Pham inside the Capitol Building in his recently deleted folder.

Even after the agents pressed him about the proof, Pham still had more excuses. 

Pham said that he had attended a pro-Trump rally with his wife and a friend at 7 a.m. and later decided to follow a crowd headed for the Capitol Building, according to court documents. That’s when he thought, why not take the opportunity to appreciate some of the fine art on display. 

Amid all the chaos, Pham climbed over several knocked over fences, walked around barricades, and made his way into the Capitol Rotunda, where he took several photos and videos of himself and, of course, the art. In one photo, he can be seen posing under a “Trump 2020” flag, featuring the phrase “No more bullshit.”

In a statement published on Twitter, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said that the department assisted the FBI in their investigation of Pham after receiving a tip about his involvement in the riots.


“We are also auditing arrests made by this former officer to ensure there are no irregularities to include in the review of his body-worn camera footage related to his arrests,” Acevedo continued.  

Pham’s attorney, Nicole Hochglaube, did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment.