Four police officers delivered emotional testimony Tuesday about the physical and verbal abuse they endured defending the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 from a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump, as a House select committee held its first hearing on the insurrection.
Afterward, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the panel’s chairman, said that the hearing set “the right tone for the work of this committee” and that the panel would probably hold its next hearing before the end of Congress’s August recess. He said the committee would start issuing subpoenas for additional witnesses “soon.”
What happened in today’s hearing:
The panel heard from two members of the Capitol Police — Officer Harry Dunn and Sgt. Aquilino Gonell — along with two members of D.C.’s police force: Officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges.
During his testimony, Fanone slammed his fist on the table and called the indifference of some lawmakers to the attack disgraceful. “Nothing, truly nothing, has prepared me to address those elected members of our government who continue to deny the events of that day. And in doing so, betray their oath of office.”
The officers urged members of the panel to probe the role that Trump played Jan. 6, with Dunn comparing the former president to someone who hired a “hit man.”
A tangle of protesters and counterprotesters on Tuesday cut short a news conference held outside the Justice Department, where a coalition of Republican lawmakers attempted to call out what they claimed is unjust treatment of defendants detained after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Speakers included Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Matt Gaetz of Florida, who accused the Justice Department of withholding information on detention conditions and treating Jan. 6 defendants unfairly.
At least one person blew a whistle throughout the roughly 18-minute news conference, as counterprotester cries of “free the Jan. 6 prisoners!” mixed with protesters’ taunts of “pedophile” directed at Gaetz; the congressman has been under investigation by the Justice Department since last year over an alleged sexual relationship with an underage girl.
Near the end of the conference, as Greene was speaking, Nick Dyer, her spokesman, abruptly moved to shut down the event, saying “The left is interrupting the press conference; we need to end it.”
“I, too, am happy to join my Republican colleagues and demand the answers to the very troubling reports that the Biden administration and Justice Department are mistreating nonviolent prisoners in connection with Jan. 6,” Gosar said. He and other lawmakers cited complaints from Capitol riot defendants and their lawyers that they were being held in poor conditions, placed in solitary confinement and abused by guards.
“We gotta make sure that people who are acting disorderly get treated fairly when they get sent to jail,” Gohmert said.
The majority of the more than 540 people facing federal charges stemming from the insurrection have been released; approximately 10 percent of defendants have been jailed before trial because they were deemed flight risks or dangerous to the community based on the crimes they’re charged with.
Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, one of two Republicans serving on the select committee investigating the insurrection, has criticized her Republican colleagues for whitewashing the actions of the mob that day.
“The fact that so many members of our leadership … that they’ve gone from recognizing what happened on the 6th to protesting in front of the Justice Department on behalf of those who were part of the insurrection is something I can’t explain,” Cheney told reporters after the subcommittee hearing. “I think it’s a disgrace.”
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New chief of Capitol Police praises performance of officers at hearing
J. Thomas Manger, the newly hired chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, weighed in with praise for the officers who testified before the House select committee Tuesday.
“I am proud of the officers who had the courage to share their stories in front of the House Select Committee and our entire country to describe the horrors and heroism on January 6,” Manger said in a statement. “I am equally proud of everyone in this Department and our partner agencies who fought like hell to preserve our democracy.”
Manger, who spent 21 years as a police chief in the prosperous Washington suburbs of Montgomery and Fairfax counties, was named Thursday to take over the U.S. Capitol Police as it tries to regain its footing in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
Manger succeeds Steven A. Sund, who resigned days after the insurrection amid heavy criticism of the department’s lack of preparation, and interim chief Yogananda D. Pittman, who was head of Capitol Police intelligence before Jan. 6.
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Top senators say they have a tentative deal on emergency funds for U.S. Capitol Police
Top senators said Tuesday they had reached a tentative deal to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency funding to the U.S. Capitol Police and for other security needs.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, used the same language Tuesday to describe the negotiations, which have meandered for weeks: “We think we have a deal.”
The emergency funding is meant, in part, to address a Capitol Police budget shortfall caused by the Jan. 6 mob attack and its aftermath, including tens of millions of dollars in unexpected overtime. Democrats have pushed for a package as large as $3.7 billion that would also fund security enhancements at the Capitol and backfill Jan. 6-related expenses at the Defense Department. Republicans, meanwhile, floated a narrower $633 million package.
“We did not budget for an insurrection,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said this month, defending the larger amount.
Leahy said the tentative deal is $2.1 billion total and will include language providing thousands more “special immigrant” visas for Afghan translators who assisted U.S. forces during the 20-year war there against the Taliban.
Neither Schumer nor Shelby would discuss specifics. The two men announced the tentative deal as a House committee heard testimony from four police officers who were attacked by insurrectionists during the Jan. 6 riot.
Schumer said the deal could clear the Senate as soon as this week, though that would probably take unanimous cooperation from all senators. “We’ll try to get it to the floor ASAP,” he said.
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‘Downplaying the events of that day is also downplaying those officers’ response,’ Fanone says
Highlighting some of the most egregious denials and defenses of the Jan. 6 riot, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) asked members of law enforcement during the hearing to respond to overt attempts by some to minimize the seriousness of that day.
Running down the list of weapons used in the riot, including baseball bats, lead pipes and Confederate battle flags, Raskin asked Fanone for his reaction to the claim that the mob was “unarmed.”
Fanone said that the items Raskin described are weapons and that law enforcement officers recovered firearms before Jan. 6, the day of the insurrection and in the days afterward from people in Washington who were suspected to have participated in the insurrection or planned to.
“You know, downplaying the events of that day is also downplaying those officers’ response,” he added. “And like Sergeant Gonell said, … part of the healing process from recovering from traumatic events of that day is having the nation accept the fact that day happened.”
Raskin noted in turning to Hodges that the officer had used the word “terrorist” or “terrorism” 15 times in his written testimony. Raskin then asked for his response to remarks by Rep. Andrew S. Clyde (R-Ga.), who in May compared the insurrectionists’ actions to a “normal tourist visit.”
“Well, if that’s what American tourists are like, I can see why foreign countries don’t like American tourists,” Hodges deadpanned to chuckles from the gallery before reading the U.S. Code’s definition of domestic terrorism for the record.
Gonell later added, when questioned by Raskin: “How do you call an attack on a police officer a ‘tour’ when you see my bleeding hands, when you see all the officers getting concussions, getting maimed, getting fingers shattered, eyes gouged?”
He said some lawmakers’ indifference toward the riot was “devastating” for the Capitol Police’s recruitment efforts.
“Elected leaders downplaying this — why would I risk my life for them when they don’t even care?”
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Officers urge probe of role that Trump played on Jan. 6
The officers testifying to the panel urged members of Congress to explore the role Trump played in the events of Jan. 6, with Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn comparing him to someone who hired a “hit man” to carry out his crime.
“I want you to get to the bottom of that,” Dunn told the committee.
Dunn’s comments came in response to a question from Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the panel’s chairman, who asked the officers what they would like to see the committee investigate.
D.C. police officer Daniel Hodges offered a similar exhortation.
“As patrol officers, we can only, you know, deal with the crimes that have happened on the streets, the misdemeanors and occasionally the violent felonies,” he said. “But you guys are the only ones we’ve got to deal with crimes that occur above us. I need you guys to address if anyone in power had a role in this, if anyone in power coordinated or aided and abetted or tried to downplay, tried to prevent the investigation of this terrorist attack because we can’t do it. We’re not allowed to. And I think a majority of Americans are really looking forward to that as well.”
D.C. police officer Michael Fanone, meanwhile, urged the committee to look into “whether or not there was collaboration between those members [of Congress), their staff and these terrorists.”
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Luria says she expects ‘cowards’ will attack select committee
Gonell told Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) that it was “very disappointing” to find himself defending the Capitol from fellow Americans after having served in Iraq.
“I saw many officers fighting for their lives against people, rioters, our own citizens turning against us, people who had the thin blue line on their chests,” Gonell said, adding, “They were attacking us because we were defending the very institution that they are claiming that they are trying to save.”
Luria then shared a video showing rioters attacking officers while yelling “Die traitors” and shouting expletives at “the blue.” She then asked Fanone how the images made him feel.
“At no point that day did I ever think about the politics of that crowd,” he replied. “Even the things that were being said did not resonate in the midst of that chaos. But what did resonate was the fact that thousands of Americans were attacking police officers who were simply doing their job.”
“In retrospect now, thinking about those events, the things that were said, it’s disgraceful that members of our government, I believe, were responsible for inciting that behavior and then continue to propagate those statements,” he said, adding, “Those individuals are, you know, representative of the worst that America has to offer.”
Before closing, Luria, the final questioner, said she does not want to look back on Jan. 6 in 20 years and say there were signs that “we ignored.”
“I don’t want any of us to say that this happened gradually and then suddenly,” she said, “and that some were just too worried about winning the next election to do something about it or too cowardly to seek the truth. So that’s the task before this committee.”
Luria added: “I’m sure that we’ll be attacked by cowards, by those in the arena, those only in the stands, and that we’ll be attacked by people who are more concerned about their own power than about the good of this country. But my oath, your oath, all of our oaths here today to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, will be our guiding light for this investigation.”
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New video footage shows how D.C. police officer lost consciousness during attack
New video footage captured by D.C. police officer Michael Fanone and other police officers’ body cameras showed the extent of the danger Fanone was in at the hand of insurrectionists as he pleaded for his life on Jan. 6.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) introduced video that snipped together how Fanone entered the Capitol West Front tunnel in an effort to protect the Capitol before being dragged out and beaten by insurrectionists.
Fanone recalled entering the crypt on the Capitol’s first floor with his partner, Jimmy Albright, and seeing throngs of police officers exhausted from defending the door leading to the building’s West Front balcony, where Joe Biden would be inaugurated as president weeks later. In an effort to relieve tired police, Fanone made his way to the front and is seen from another officer’s camera pushing all of his weight against the door frame to prevent insurrectionists from entering.
He tried to plea with the protesters, telling them that the door needs to stay closed to protect injured officers, which he said “pissed them off.”
“That’s when the surge that you watched in some of the video began and you had a large group at the mouth of that tunnel entrance trying to push their way through the officers who were trying to defend it,” Fanone said. “I believe had they done so or had they accomplished that, they would have trampled us to death. Most certainly you would have had police officers killed.”
Shortly afterward, he was pulled off the line and dragged outside. Video taken as Fanone was lying on the ground showed several “terrorists,” as he called them, lunging at him. Fanone recalled that they were trying to get his gun and that he heard one man shout, “Kill him with his own gun!”
The video then shows blurred movement as a man yells “I’ve got one,” referring to Fanone. It’s at that moment Fanone tries to appeal to the insurrectionists’ humanity by telling them simply, “I have kids.”
Moments after, the video shows Fanone being carried inside by some insurrectionists who intervened before he was handed off to police at the front lines.
“I need a medic! We need EMTs now!” an officer shouts.
“Mike, stay in there buddy,” Albright says as he arrives to help his friend.
Fanone testified that based on his body-camera footage it is believed he was unconscious for approximately four minutes. He suffered a minor heart attack and concussion from being beaten and hit with a stun gun by rioters.
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Rep. Murphy recalls being in proximity to officer pinned between rioters and Capitol door frame
Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) recounted being holed up in the basement of the Capitol on Jan. 6 only 40 paces, she said, from where D.C. police officer Daniel Hodges was being pinned between the rioters and a door frame.
“You know, I have two young children,” Murphy said to Hodges, one of the officers testifying. “I have a 10-year-old son and a 7-year-old daughter. They’re the light of my life. And the reason I was able to hug them again was because of the courage that you and your fellow officers showed that day. And so just a really heartfelt thank you.”
Murphy said that she was able to hear the officers with Hodges trying to resist the breach of the Capitol by Trump supporters and was able to escape down a hallway because of their efforts.
“ I think it’s important for everybody … to remember that the main reason rioters didn’t harm any members of Congress was because they didn’t encounter any members of Congress, and they didn’t encounter any members of Congress because law enforcement officers did your jobs that day and you did it well,” she said.
“Well, I think without you, what would have been a terrible — and what was a terrible — and tragic day would have been even more terrible and more tragic.”
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‘I guess it is America,’ Capitol Police officer says of racist abuse that Black officers faced
In one of the more philosophical questions raised at Tuesday’s hearing, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) asked Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn about his experience as a Black officer who faced not only physical threats but also racist verbal abuse.
“You asked a question I think that I’ve been haunted by ever since,” Schiff asked. “Is this America?”
“The fact that we had our race attacked and just because of the way we look, you know … To answer your question, frankly, I guess it is America,” Dunn said. “It shouldn’t be, but I guess that’s the way that things are.”
Dunn described Jan. 6 as a “war,” with each of the officers fighting in different battles, and Black officers like him fighting racism on an additional front.
“So I guess it sounds silly, but I guess it is American … but it’s not the … it’s not the side of America that I like. It’s not the side that any of us here represent,” Dunn said. “We represent the good side of America, the people who actually believe in decency.”
An emotional Kinzinger, Republican on panel, asks officers if they think it’s ‘time to move on’
In emotional remarks, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) commended the four officers and defended his participation on the House select committee, saying he was there not “in spite of my membership in the Republican Party but because of it.”
“You guys won. You guys held,” Kinzinger, on the verge of tears, told the officers. “Democracies are not defined by our bad days. We’re defined by how we come back from our bad days.”
“Here’s what we know: Congress was not prepared on January 6th. We weren’t prepared because we never imagined that this could happen,” Kinzinger continued. “An attack by our own people, fostered and encouraged by those granted power through the very system they sought to overturn.”
Kinzinger, a member of the National Guard who was called to serve during last summer’s protests, drew a contrast between the reaction to those demonstrations and the lack of preparation to the riot.
“Some have concocted a counternarrative to discredit this process on the grounds that we didn’t launch a similar investigation into the urban riots and looting last summer,” Kinzinger said. “Mr. Chairman, I was called on to serve during the summer riots as an Air National Guardsman. I condemn those riots and the destruction of property that resulted. But not once did I ever feel that the future of self-governance was threatened like I did on January 6th.”
“There is a difference between breaking the law and rejecting the rule of law, between a crime, even grave crimes, and a coup,” he added.
Kinzinger then began his questioning of the four officers by asking whether they thought it was “time to move on” from an investigation of the attack.
“We hear out there it’s time to move on,” Kinzinger said. “Does this feel like old history and time to move on? You can just say yes or no.”
All four officers said no.
“There can be no moving on without accountability,” D.C. police officer Daniel Hodges replied.
“There’s been this idea that this was not an armed insurrection. As if somehow that is justification for what happened,” Kinzinger said, before asking the officers what their response is to claims that the rioters were not armed.
“For those people who continue to downplay this violent attack on our democracy and officers, I suggest to them to look at the videos and the footage now, because common things were used as weapons, like a baseball bat, a hockey stick, a rebar, a flagpole, including the American flag, pepper spray, bear spray,” said Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell. “Those are weapons, no matter if it is a pen. The way they were using these items, it was.”
“We thank you for holding the line,” Kinzinger said, holding back tears.
Capitol Police officer castigates Trump for saying his supporters were ‘a loving crowd’
Gonell was asked about Trump’s phrase by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), one of the two Republicans on the committee.
“To me, it’s insulting, just demoralizing because of everything that we did to prevent everyone in the Capitol from getting hurt,” Gonell said. “And what he was doing, instead of sending the military, instead of sending the support or telling his people, his supporters, to stop this nonsense, he begged them to continue fighting.”
“I’m still recovering from those hugs and kisses that day that he claimed,” Gonell added.
He said that members of the mob on Jan. 6 repeatedly told him that “Trump sent us.”
“It was not antifa. It was not Black Lives Matter. It was not the FBI. It was his supporters that he sent them over to the Capitol that day. And he could have done a lot of things,” Gonell said. “One of them was to tell them to stop.”
His exchange came with Cheney came shortly after lawmakers started asking questions following opening statements from the officers.
Ahead of Cheney’s questions, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the committee’s chairman, asked the officers to elaborate upon their experiences on Jan. 6.
Harry Dunn, a Capitol Police officer, who had testified about being called racial slurs while on duty that day, said he didn’t “process it as a racial attack” at the time.
“I was just trying to survive that day and get home,” he said.
When he thought more about it later, Dunn said, he found it distressing that “people demonize you because of the color of your skin.”
“When my blood is red, I’m an American citizen,” he said. “I’m not a police officer. I’m a peace officer. I’m here to defend this country, defend everybody in this building.”
‘You will die on your knees’: D.C. police officer recalls being pinned at Capitol door frame by insurrectionists ‘foaming at the mouth’
D.C. police officer Daniel Hodges recounted the harrowing experiences he faced while protecting the Capitol from insurrectionists, whom he repeatedly characterized as “terrorists” and “Donald Trump’s people” as he delivered his opening statement Tuesday.
Hodges recalled watching the day quickly turn from a “peaceful assembly into terrorism” that ultimately left him brutally beaten and pinned between the rioters and a Capitol door frame, wondering whether he would die there or be dragged to the building’s West Front by taunting insurrections to be “lynched by the mob.”
“I was effectively defenseless,” he said as he described standing between the metal door frame and his shield, which a protester took from him. Unable to move, he was beaten by several insurrectionists, first with his face mask and then with his baton, which left him with a bloodied lip and lacerations to his face.
Although Hodges’s bloodied face became a powerful image of just how violent the pro-Trump mob became on Jan. 6, the officer said the attackers’ verbal aggression also showed their determination to overturn the election and harm anyone who came in their path.
“A man sarcastically yelled, ‘Here come the boys in blue! So brave.’ Another called on us to ‘remember your oath.’ There was plenty of booing,” Hodges said as he recalled the taunts leveled at him and his colleagues as they repositioned from the National Mall to the Capitol’s West Front. “Another woman who was part of the mob of terrorists laying siege to the Capitol of the United States shouted, ‘Traitors.’ ”
The police continued to march, undeterred by threats that the officers would “die on your knees” if they did not side with the insurrectionists. While defending the Capitol grounds, Hodges recalled seeing a sea of flags,some of which read: “Jesus is my savior. Trump is my president.”
But what perplexed Hodges was seeing the blue line American flag meant to symbolize defending the police carried by the same people who had thrown him to the ground and beaten him relentlessly. Hodges said some insurrectionists tried to “convert” police to their side, while others yelled and foamed at the mouth as they beat him while he was pinned against the metal door frame.
Surviving the attacks, but not without serious injuries and a concussion, Hodges recalled feeling thankful to see fellow members of his team in the Capitol Crypt that evening.
“Despite our exhaustion, we would have run out into the fight again should the need have arisen,” he said.
‘To my perpetual confusion, I saw the thin blue line flag,’ D.C. police officer testifies as he recounts riot scene
In emotional testimony that recounted the abuse he received while defending the Capitol on Jan. 6, D.C. police officer Daniel Hodges said he was struck by the flags carried by members of the mob, whom he characterized as “terrorists.”
“To my perpetual confusion, I saw the thin blue line flag, a symbol of support for law enforcement more than once being carried by the terrorists as they ignored our commands and continued to assault us,” Hodges said.
He nodded to the conflict between the beliefs represented by the flags, and the actions of those holding them.
“It was clear the terrorists perceived themselves to be Christians. I saw the Christian flag directly to my front, another ‘Jesus is my savior.’ ‘Trump is my president.’ Another ‘Jesus is king,’ ” Hodges continued.
Hodges detailed how insurrectionists beat him and tried to jab him with metal objects, while others attempted to remove his service firearm, rip off his gas mask and gouge his eyes. The mob alternately attacked him and tried to appear to be allied with him, he said.
“Men alleging to be veterans told us how they had fought for this country and we’re fighting for it again. One man tried to start a chant of four more years,” Hodges said. “Another shouted, ‘do not attack us. We’re not Black Lives Matter,’ as if political affiliation is how we determine when to use force.”
Hodges is among members of the Capitol Police and the D.C. police testifying in Tuesday’s inaugural hearing on the Jan 6. riot.
‘January 6th still isn’t over for me’: Capitol Police officers relive trauma of insurrection
Two Capitol Police officers, Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell, told lawmakers of their ongoing efforts to grapple with the fallout of having come under attack at the hands of rioters loyal to Trump as they tried to protect the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“That day continues to be a constant trauma for us, literally every day,” Gonell, who was attacked with chemical spray that made his skin burn and needed surgery to repair his injuries, told the committee.
“January 6 still isn’t over for me,” Dunn said, describing in harrowing detail how insurrectionists wearing MAGA hats and “Trump 2020” T-shirts repeatedly called him the n-word to his face for telling them he voted for Biden — and did the same to several of his Black colleagues.
“How is this America?” he later said to others in the Capitol Rotunda — a phrase that was quoted throughout the impeachment trial that followed, in which Trump was charged for inciting the insurrection.
Dunn and Gonell described a mob hat came to the Capitol armed and ready for battle with weapons, chemical sprays and protective gear. But they say they didn’t receive any threat warnings from their superiors of that until the attack was already underway.
They appeared alongside two D.C. police officers as the hearing’s opening witnesses.
Dunn and Gonell, and D.C. police officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges, have gone public with their stories before. But the forum of the hearing will potentially allow them to provide more detailed accounts of what they experienced and make direct appeals to lawmakers to remedy the situation.
Dunn asked lawmakers to take a hard look at the mental health and other assistive services that are made available for Capitol Police officers, and “consider whether they are sufficient to meet our needs, especially with respect to the amount of leave we are allowed.”
Gonell, who has been on leave for most of the last six months dealing with his injuries, stressed that law enforcement officers want “accountability and justice.” He decried what he described as ongoing attempts “to whitewash the facts into something other than what they unmistakably reveal: an attack on our democracy by violent domestic extremists.”
Updated July 28, 2021
Complete coverage: Pro-Trump mob storms Capitol building