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.
Kinzinger gets emotional as his questioning begins
An emotional Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the panel, choked up as he began his allotted questioning time.
He praised the officers for their actions on Jan. 6 and condemned how other Republicans are handling the inquiries about the riot as a partisan brawl.
"I'm a Republican, I'm a conservative," he said, adding, "It's time to stop the outrage and the conspiracies" and "we need to reject those who promote it."
Kinzinger added he's on the panel "to investigate Jan. 6 not in spite of my membership in the Republican Party, but because of it."
'It's insulting': Gonell responds to Trump's assertion that there was a 'lot of love' in the crowd
Cheney asked Sgt. Gonell how he feels hearing former President Trump describe there being a "lot of love" in the crowd of his supporters on Jan. 6 when they attacked the Capitol.
"If those are hugs and kisses, we all should go to his house and do the same things to him," Gonell said.
"To me, it's insulting, it's demoralizing," he continued.
A few minutes later, he said that he didn't mean that people should literally go to Trump's house and said he apologizes for his "outburst."
Gonell said that he and other officers tried to prevent everyone inside the Capitol from getting hurt and instead of sending in the military, he said that Trump "egged" on his supporters to continue fighting.
'Words are weapons': Dunn reflects on mob berating him with racial slurs
After delivering powerful testimony about being bombarded with racial slurs on Jan. 6, Officer Dunn, who is Black, called the words "weapons."
"Disheartening that we live in a country with people like that," Dunn said, "who attack you based on the color of your skin. Those words are weapons."
"Once I was able to process it, it hurt," he added. "It hurt just reading it now, thinking about it. ... It just hurts that we have people in this country that result to that regardless of your actions and what you desire to do to make a difference out there."
In his opening testimony, Dunn said he responded to the mob suggesting that no one voted for President Joe Biden that Dunn himself had voted for him.
"'You hear that guys? This n----- voted for Joe Biden,'" Dunn said someone in the crowd responded, adding the more people shouted: "'Boooo, f------ n----.'"
"No one had ever ever called me a n----- while wearing a uniform," Dunn said.
Analysis: McCarthy chooses not to defend (or condemn) actions of Trump, his supporters
Republican leaders have chosen to neither defend nor condemn former President Donald Trump and his supporters who stormed the Capitol in his name Jan. 6.
The voluntary silence is effectively a plea of no contest to allegations that House GOP leaders have acted as accessories after the fact in fighting against the investigation.
Those who deny what happened or play it down, "betray their oath of office," Officer Michael Fanone said during his opening testimony.
"The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful," he said, raising his voice and slamming the table.
The only Republicans participating in the hearing — Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill. — were appointed by Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., over the objections of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
McCarthy chose to withdraw the rest of his party's appointees to the panel when Pelosi nixed two lawmakers who have cast doubt on the inquiry, the danger posed by the rioters and the risk the attack created for the republic.
In doing so, he gave up the opportunity to create distance between Republican officials, including Trump, and the rioters. McCarthy opted not to defend any of them. And maybe that's because it's impossible to defend the indefensible.
Biden not expected to watch select committee hearing live
President Joe Biden is not expected to be watching the Jan. 6 hearing in real-time due to his schedule, according to multiple White House officials.
He will likely watch clips or headlines but he’s not sitting down and watching it, according to officials.
Another official said the president fully supports House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the committee leadership, and the courage of those testifying who protected the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Officers around the Capitol watch the hearing on their phones
Officers around the Capitol complex Tuesday were seen watching the hearing on their phones as their fellow officers delivered emotional testimony about their experiences defending the building before the select committee.
Many officers were huddled together as they watched. A few remarked to NBC News how important it was to witness.
D.C. officer Hodges describes how he was violently attacked, pinned against a door
D.C. Metropolitan Police officer Daniel Hodges described how he was violently attacked on Jan. 6, calling the rioters "terrorists" and recounting being told "you will die on your knees."
As they rioters marched toward the Capitol, Hodges said a man yelled, "'Here come the boys in blue.'" Other people booed, calling them "stormtroopers" and "traitors," he said in his testimony.
While defending inside the Capitol, he said someone pushed his thumb into his eye, "attempting to gauge it out."
One man, he said, grabbed the front of Hodge's gas mask and beat his head against the door with it. Hodges said that the man was "foaming at the mouth."
"I knew I couldn't sustain much more damage and remain upright," said Hodges, who said that he was afraid he was going to collapse and be a liability to his colleagues or "dragged into the crowd and lynched."
"I did the only thing that it could do and screamed for help," he said.
Sgt. Gonell breaks down in tears
Gonell testified moments later that he thought he could have died that day, defending the Capitol from the pro-Trump mob.
Cheney’s striking criticism of GOP leadership
Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney's appearance at the hearing was an act of defiance against Republican Party leaders, including former President Donald Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
But that was nothing compared to what she said in her opening statement about what she described as GOP efforts to cover up what happened and the importance of ex-White House aides testifying against Trump.
"On January 6 and the days thereafter, almost all members of my party recognized the events that day for what they actually were," Cheney said. "One Republican, for example, said, quote, 'What is happening at the U.S. Capitol right now is unacceptable and un-American. Those participating in lawlessness and violence must be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.'"
That member: Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., who has since sought to discredit the investigation and was appointed to the committee by McCarthy before Pelosi nixed the selection.
"We must overcome the many efforts we are already seeing to cover up and obscure the facts," Cheney said.
Even for a lawmaker who has criticized her party's leaders publicly before, Cheney's shaming of fellow Republicans while under the spotlight of such a high-profile congressional hearing was breathtaking, and she made clear she was doing it in what she believes is the best interest of the party and the country.
Cheney also urged fellow Republicans who served under Trump to give the committee insight into what the then-president was doing as some of his supporters stormed the Capitol.
"We must know what happened here at the Capitol. We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the white House," Cheney said. "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."
Ultimately, the participation or absence of those former aides — and the picture they can draw of Trump — will go a long way to determining how close the committee can get to drawing a full picture of the riot.
Officer Fanone says he was 'at risk of getting killed with my own firearm' by Jan. 6 mob
Michael Fanone, an officer with the Washington Metropolitan Police Department, said he decided not to use his firearm on the mob that attacked him outside the Capitol because he worried they would see the escalation as a reason to kill him.
"'Kill him with his own gun,'" he recalled one rioter saying. "I still hear those words in my head today."
He said the events were "unlike anything I've ever seen" or "could've imagined happening in my country."
"I was grabbed, beaten, tased," Fanone said in his opening testimony. "All while being called a traitor to my country."
He said he was dragged into the crowd. Rioters grabbed his badge and ammunition, beating him with fists and metal objects. "I was electrocuted again and again and again with a taser," he said, adding that watching footage of the riot is painful for him.
Fanone blasted the "indifference" shown to him and his colleagues by Republican members who've downplayed the riot — slamming his fist down on the table as he noted it.
Sgt. Gonell becomes emotional as he details defending the Capitol
Sgt. Gonell became emotional sharing his terrifying experience defending the Capitol on Jan. 6, pausing several times in his testimony as he detailed how he could have died.
"I was falsely accused of betraying my 'oath' and of choosing my 'paycheck' over my loyalty to the U.S. Constitution – even as I defended the very democratic process that protected everyone in that hostile crowd," Gonell said in his opening statement.
He said that the rioters "called me a 'traitor,' a 'disgrace,' and shouted that I (an Army veteran and police officer) should be 'executed.'"
Gonell, an immigrant, described growing up and seeing America as a symbol of freedom. He choked up as he explained that he later found out that his wife and relatives in the U.S. and abroad were frantically calling and texting him from 2 p.m. onward that day. But he couldn't let his family know until 4:26 p.m. that he was alive.
"I could have lost my life that day, but as soon as I recover from my injuries I will continue forward and proudly serve my country and the U.S. Capitol Police," he said.
Rep. Thompson: 'A peaceful transfer of power did not happen this year'
Capitol Police officers testifying at hearing watch video footage of Jan. 6
While the video footage from Jan. 6 played in the room during Thompson's opening statement, the four Capitol Police officers watched attentively.
Sgt. Gonell took a Kleenex and wiped his eyes at least three times. At one point, Officer Fanone stopped watching and looked down. He looked back up and started to watch again about 30 seconds later.
During the video of Officer Hodges in the door, Hodges shifted slightly in his chair but didn't look away.
At another point, Fanone looked down and then over to his right at Gonell. He then stood up and whispered something to Gonell and clenched his shoulder, offering a measure of solidarity and support.
Thompson cuts to video during his opening statement
About halfway through his opening statement, Thompson cut to video and audio footage of the Jan. 6 riot to bolster his point.
The footage showed the violence police officers faced from the mob, distressed calls they made back to dispatchers, and calls from rioters to harm House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and then-Vice President Mike Pence.
Cheney says committee must investigate 'what happened every minute of that day in the White House'
The American public deserves "the full and open testimony of every person with knowledge of the planning and preparation" for Jan. 6, Cheney said in her opening statement, criticizing her own party for not joining the investigation.
"We must know what happened here at 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," she said. "If those responsible are not held accountable, and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our Constitutional Republic, undermining the peaceful transfer of power at the heart of our democratic system."
Cheney said that the committee must enforce subpoenas "promptly" and must "overcome the many efforts we are already seeing to cover up and obscure the facts."
The Wyoming Republican said that every lawmaker and elected official across the country have a question to ask themselves in the wake of Jan. 6.
"Will we adhere to the rule of law, respect the rulings of our courts, and preserve the peaceful transition of power? Or will we be so blinded by partisanship that we throw away the miracle of America? Do we hate our political adversaries more than we love our country and revere our Constitution?"
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.