Officers Give Harrowing Testimony On Their Experience Defending The Capitol On Jan. 6
"For most people, Jan. 6 happened for a few hours," U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell said in the select committee hearing. "But for those of us who were in the thick of it, it has not ended."
Updated July 27, 2021 at 10:17 AM ET
The select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol is holding its first meeting Tuesday. Scheduled to testify are four police officers, two from the U.S. Capitol Police and two from the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department.
The four officers — Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell of the Capitol Police, and Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges of the Metropolitan Police — were all on duty on Jan. 6 and are testifying about the physical and verbal assaults they faced.
Watch the hearing live below.
Editor's note: Video shown during the hearing may contain violence and profanity.
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Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., gave impassioned opening remarks, describing the threat to democracy and blasting those who have dismissed the magnitude of what happened on Jan. 6:
"Some people are trying to deny what happened. To whitewash it. To turn the insurrectionists into martyrs.
"But the whole world saw the reality of what happened on Jan. 6. The hangman's gallows sitting out there on our [National] Mall. The flag of that first failed and disgraced rebellion against our union, being paraded through the Capitol. The hatred. The bigotry. The violence.
"And all of it: for a vile, vile lie. Let's be clear. The rioters who tried to rob us of our democracy were propelled here by a lie. As chairman of this Committee, I will not give that lie any fertile ground.
"We need to understand how and why the Big Lie festered. We need to know minute by minute how Jan. 6 unfolded. We need to understand how the rotten lie behind Jan. 6 has continued to spread and feed the forces that would undermine American democracy.
"And we need to figure out how to fix the damage."
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., one of two GOP House members named to the panel by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, also gave an opening statement, saying the panel must also look into the actions of former President Donald Trump on that day.
"We cannot leave the violence of Jan. 6 and its causes uninvestigated. We must know what happened here in the Capitol. We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House. Every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to during and after the attack.
"Honorable men and women have an obligation to step forward.
"If those responsible are not held accountable, and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our constitutional republic."
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told reporters Monday that "what we want to communicate in the hearing is what it was like to be on the front lines for these brave police officers," how outnumbered they were, how militarized members of crowd was, and "just what a harrowing, terrible experience it was" for the police.
Schiff said he expected the testimony "will be quite informative and emotionally very powerful."
The select panel contains seven Democratic members and two Republicans appointed by Pelosi, Reps. Cheney and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. Cheney and Kinzinger were among the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump over inciting the mob that stormed the Capitol as lawmakers were meeting to certify the election of President Biden.
Pelosi last week rejected two Republicans named by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to serve on the panel, Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio. Both Banks and Jordan are staunch backers of Trump and publicly expressed doubt about the motives of the panel.
Their rejection by Pelosi prompted McCarthy to withdraw his other nominees to the select committee. McCarthy threatened Republicans would conduct their own investigation into the events of that day.
The select committee is the latest attempt by Congress to look into the Jan. 6 insurrection and what led up to it. Trump was impeached over his involvement in the riot after days of public testimony. In addition, the Senate Rules and Homeland Security committees conducted their own set of hearings.
So far, more than 550 people have been arrested in connection with the storming of the Capitol, and more than half a dozen have pleaded guilty.
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