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January 6 hearing: Capitol riot inquiry invokes emotional police testimony

At times wiping away tears, four officers detailed the repeated violent attacks by the pro-Trump mob. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican, was also overcome.

The House select committee formed to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol convened its first hearing on Tuesday, hosting a panel of four police officers who defended the building against a mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump.

The testimony, which included new video footage from the day, was both emotional and dramatic, as the officers described being overwhelmed by rioters who were better equipped for the battle that unfolded.

  • Officer Dunn, a 13-year veteran of the Capitol Police force, recounted enduring racist slurs, in powerful testimony about confronting the mob. More on the officers here.
  • The officers provided chilling, detailed accounts of being knocked unconscious, beaten and fearing death at the hands of a mob that outnumbered them. They choked up reliving the hand-to-hand combat they faced on Jan. 6.
  • Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., issued striking criticism of her party for blocking an independent commission to examine the attack. She is one of two Republicans serving on the committee, at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's invitation.

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Officer Dunn to say he endured racial slurs, physical exhaustion during Capitol attack

Officer Harry Dunn, a 13-veteran of the Capitol Police force, will testify that on the day of the Jan. 6 attack, he endured racial slurs from the mob and physical assault. 

"No one had ever-ever-called me a n----- while wearing the uniform of a Capitol Police officer," Dunn will say during his opening statement, using a racial slur. He will add, according to prepared remarks, that in the days following other Black officers also told him their stories of racial abuse Jan. 6.

Dunn will recall being drained "both physically and emotionally, and in shock and disbelief over what had happened."

Dunn said he has had to attend multiple counseling sessions and is now receiving private counseling therapy for the persistent emotional trauma. He will also urge the committee to review the services available to officers, specifically the amount of leave they are allotted. 

Thompson in opening statement says Capitol rioters nearly succeeded

Rep. Bennie Thompson, who is chairing the committee, said in his opening statement that the Capitol rioters "came dangerously close to succeeding" on Jan. 6 and that while President Joe Biden took office, a peaceful transfer of power "didn't happen this year."

"These rioters were organized. They were ready for a fight. And they came close to succeeding," Thompson said. "It’s frightening to think about how close we were. A few inches of wood and glass. An officer turning left instead of turning right."

He criticized those seeking to "whitewash" the events of Jan. 6 — some Republicans have suggested the event has been overblown — and said it would not have taken place if not for the lies spread about last fall's election.

"We need to understand how and why the Big Lie festered," Thompson said. "We need to know minute by minute how January 6th unfolded. We need to understand how the rotten lie behind January 6th has continued to spread and feed the forces that would undermine American democracy. And we need to figure out how to fix the damage."

Capitol Police Officer Gonell to say he was more afraid Jan. 6 than during Army deployment to Iraq

Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, one of the Capitol Police officers testifying Tuesday, will say in his opening statement that on Jan. 6 he felt like he was experiencing "something from a medieval battlefield." 

"On Jan. 6, for the first time, I was more afraid working at the Capitol than during my entire Army deployment to Iraq. In Iraq, we expected armed violence, because we were in a war zone. But nothing in my experience in the Army, or as a law enforcement officer, prepared me for what we confronted on Jan. 6," he will say, according to prepared remarks. 

Gonell will say that he and other officers were "punched, pushed, kicked, shoved, sprayed with chemical irritants, and even blinded with eye-damaging lasers" that day and sustained injuries to his hands, his left shoulder, his left calf and right foot. He has undergone fusion surgery on his foot, he said, and was told he needs surgery on his shoulder. He said he's been on medical and administrative leave for the last six months.

"For most people, Jan. 6 happened for a few hours that day. But for those of us who were in the thick of it, it has not ended," he will say. "That day continues to be a constant trauma for us literally every day, whether because of our physical or emotional injuries, or both."

House Republicans lash out at Pelosi ahead of first Jan. 6 hearing

House Republicans lashed out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ahead of the first hearing on the Jan. 6 attack, saying Democrats are trying to promote a certain narrative about the riot and cover up for Pelosi. 

"Why were we ill-prepared for that day," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said at a press conference outside the Capitol, repeating a talking point that Pelosi bears some responsibility for the riot. 

McCarthy said that Republicans want to participate, but Pelosi is trying to prevent his members from asking the "tough questions" about why U.S. Capitol Police weren't prepared to take on hundreds of Trump supporters who rioted outside the Capitol, with many storming the building. 

He said that because Pelosi won't seat the members he appointed, it "becomes a failed committee and a failed report, a sham that no one can believe."

Elise Stefanik of New York, who was selected as the House GOP Conference chair after select committee member Liz Cheney was ousted from the No. 3 leadership position, said, "The American people deserve to know the truth that Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility as speaker of the House for the tragedy that occurred on Jan. 6 And it was only after Republicans started asking these important questions that she refused to seat them."

Cheney says panel could call Jordan as a witness, subpoena McCarthy and Trump

Rep. Cheney, among the two Republicans on the select committee, said Tuesday morning that the panel could call Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, as a material witness and could subpoena House Minority Leader McCarthy and even former President Trump. 

In an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America," Cheney said that Jordan may be called as a material witness because she said he was “involved in a number of meetings in the lead-up to what happened on Jan. 6, involved in planning for Jan. 6, certainly for the objections that day.”

Pelosi blocked Jordan's appointment to the committee.

Cheney, who said that the committee's investigation is "not a game" and "deadly serious," said that the panel could subpoena McCarthy and Trump, but that “the committee will go wherever we need to go to get the facts.”

The Wyoming Republican said she can’t explain why many of her fellow Republicans are trying dismiss the events of Jan. 6, adding, “I cannot explain why they have, in such a short period of time, gone from understanding that danger, to now, in some cases, trying to whitewash it, trying to ignore what happened and embracing President Trump, who we know a number of the people who were here invading the Capitol, said they were here doing it because of him.” 

Kinzinger calls McCarthy comments about him 'childish'

WASHINGTON — Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger on Monday snapped back at Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's comments about him accepting his assignment to the panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

"He can call me whatever names you want," said Kinzinger, of Illinois. "I'm an elected member of Congress. I'm a Republican."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Sunday that she had appointed Kinzinger, an outspoken Trump critic, to the House select committee charged with investigating the Jan. 6 riot.

McCarthy criticized Kinzinger's addition in a statement, calling it a "self-appointment" that will not make the panel's inquiry a "serious investigation."

Kinzinger joins the only other Republican on the committee, Rep. Liz Cheney, of Wyoming, who was ousted as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference after she criticized Trump and fellow Republicans for continuing to push false claims of fraud in the 2020 election.

If McCarthy choses to take actions against him and Cheney, Kinzinger said, "I think that probably says more about them than it does for us." 

Four law enforcement officers testify about Jan. 6 attack

Four law enforcement officers who were on the front lines during the Jan. 6 attack will testify at the select committee hearing. This is the first time they will tell their stories under oath at a congressional hearing.

Harry Dunn, private first class, U.S. Capitol Police

A 13-veteran of the force, Dunn's testimony of enduring racist slurs from the mob during the riot was included in Trump's second impeachment trial. Dunn has also said he endured physical assaults from the mob and has been vocal about what happened the day of the attack. 

Aquilino Gonell, sergeant, U.S. Capitol Police

Gonell was beaten with a flagpole during the riot and later told media he thought he would die that day.

Michael Fanone, officer, Metropolitan Police Department

Fanone has said that he suffered a heart attack and traumatic brain injury in the aftermath of the violent attack. Fanone has been vocal in his criticism of politicians downplaying the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol when hordes of rioters were egged on by Trump's lies about election fraud.

Daniel Hodges, officer, Metropolitan Police Department

Hodges was seen in viral videos trapped between doors during the Capitol riot, attempting to keep the protesters from storming the Capitol. Despite the excruciating pain he appeared to be in during the attack, he later told reporters he was happy to do his duty. The FBI has arrested a Connecticut man for allegedly assaulting Hodges. 

Cheney to give opening statement at Jan. 6 hearing

Rep. Liz Cheney, one of the two Republicans serving on the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, is expected to give an opening statement today. 

The Wyoming Republican, who was tapped by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is serving as the de facto ranking member after Pelosi rejected two of the five GOP members selected by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, prompting him to pull all five off the panel.

Cheney was ousted from her leadership role in the GOP conference after criticizing former President Trump for his role in the riot. She voted in favor of an article of impeachment against him. 

The hearing, entitled “The Law Enforcement Experience on January 6th,” is expected to last roughly 2 to 3 hours and will feature witness testimony from several law enforcement officials who were present on the day of the attack. 

 

McCarthy's picks will be absent from the committee. Here's why.

When the Select Committee on the Jan. 6 attack begins its work, there will be no one on the panel selected by GOP leader Kevin McCarthy. 

That's because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected two of McCarthy's picks for the select committee, which prompted McCarthy to pull all of his proposed appointees. The picks included Republicans Jim Jordan of Ohio, Jim Banks of Indiana, Rodney Davis of Illinois, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota and Troy Nehls of Texas. Pelosi rejected Banks and Jordan because of the "the impact their appointments could have on the integrity of the investigation."

On Monday night, McCarthy tried to force a House vote to allow his picks to be placed on the committee, but it was rejected 218 to 197. 

Republicans have argued that Democrats are using the commission for political messaging. But Pelosi has added Republican Reps. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Liz Cheney of Wyoming, both of whom are outspoken Trump critics, to the committee.