Four police officers who defended the Capitol from the pro-Trump mob that invaded it on Jan. 6 criticized the former president and Republicans who are loyal to him for allegedly inspiring and then downplaying the attack.
They asked members of the House select committee investigating the events of that day to get to the bottom of their culpability.
“You guys are the only ones we’ve got to deal with crimes that occur above us,” Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Officer Daniel Hodges said. “I need you guys to address if anyone in power had a role in this. If anyone in power coordinated, or aided abetted or tried to downplay, tried to prevent the investigation of this terrorist attack.”
The officers made the comments before a panel with no hostile questioners. Republicans pulled all of their appointees to the committee after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., blocked two of them for being too closely aligned with Trump.
The fact the only Republicans on the committee – Reps. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., and Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. – were selected by Pelosi made for a hearing with little dissent or fireworks. But with graphic body camera video and emotional testimony, the hearing was still gripping and at times jarring television.
LIVE UPDATES: PLAY-BY-PLAY OF JAN. 6 SELECT COMMITTEE HEARING
“The mob of terrorists were coordinating their efforts… shouting ‘heave, ho,’ as they synchronized pushing their weight forward crushing me further against the metal doorframe,” Hodges said. “A man in front of me grabbed my baton… he bashed me in the head and face with it, rupturing my lip and adding additional injury to my skull.”
MPD Officer Michael Fanone, meanwhile, detailed how he was “electrocuted again and again and again with a taser. I am sure I was screaming, but I don’t think I could hear my own voice.”
At least two lawmakers – Kinzinger and Rep. Adam Schiff, R-Ill. – were choked up listening to the officers’ testimony.
The committee members, led by Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., asked the police for details on a handful of fronts. Besides aiming to emphasize the severe violence from Jan. 6 – to push back on claims that the attack was like a “normal tourist visit” – they asked the officers for details about who the rioters were, and for what they would like to see the committee accomplish.
U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) Private First Class Harry Dunn talked about how the attackers hurled the N-word at him. USCP Sergeant Aquilino Gonell meanwhile emphasized that the mob “was not Antifa. It wat not Black Lives Matter. It was not the FBI. It was [Trump’s] supporters that he sent them over to the Capitol that day.”
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On what he would like the committee to accomplish, Fanone said he wanted it to dig beyond the security failures at the Capitol and the USCP budget – ground he said has already been covered – and ask more fundamental questions.
“While I understand there have been investigations [on] the events of Jan. 6, my understanding is that those have addressed some of the micro-level concerns,” he said.
“We had violent political rhetoric. We had the organization of a rally whose title was ‘Stop the Steal’ and that rally occurred on Jan. 6, which I don’t believe was a coincidence,” he continued. “The circumstances of that rhetoric and those events leads in the direction of our president and other members… of Congress and the Senate.”
Fanone added: “What I am looking for is an investigation into those actions… and also whether there was collaboration between those members, their staff, and these terrorists.”
USCP Private First Class Harry Dunn asked the committee not to shy away from the political causes of the attack.
“It’s not a secret that it was political. They were literally there to ‘stop the steal,’” Dunn said. “Telling the truth shouldn’t be hard.”
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The officers were also harsh on Republicans who are downplaying the violence, which forced hundreds of lawmakers and former Vice President Mike Pence into hiding.
“It’s disgraceful that members of our government I believe were responsible for inciting that behavior and then continue to propagate those statements. Things like this was 1776,” Fanone later said. “To me those individuals are representative of the worst that America has to offer.”
“You’re talking about people who claim that they are pro-law enforcement, pro-police, pro-law and order,” Gonell also said. “And yet when they have the chance and the opportunity to do something about it, to hold people accountable, you don’t. You pass the buck like nothing happened.”
It’s not clear how long the select committee’s investigation will last, although it’s expected to go on for months. Thompson said that there could be another hearing by the committee next month. Punchbowl News reported that Thompson plans to issue promptly issue subpoenas to get witnesses before the committee.
It’s likely those subpoenas will include some congressional Republicans, high-profile Trump allies, and maybe even the former president himself.
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Republicans, however, argue that the committee is asking the wrong questions. Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., who was blocked from the committee by Pelosi, said the officers were not asked, “Why were they not prepared for Jan. 6 when there was intelligence… that told them something dangerous was going to happen.”
“This is politically designed by the Democrats to stop Republicans from winning back the majority in the midterm election,” Banks alleged.
Meanwhile, Dunn put the responsibility for the Jan. 6 attack at the feet of Trump and Trump’s allies.
“This wasn’t the first time that… the MAGA people came up here to the Capitol,” Dunn said. “There were some skirmishes but it was never an attempt to overthrow democracy.”
Dunn added: “The only difference that I see in [Jan. 6] is that they had marching orders so to say. When people feel emboldened by people in power, they assume that they’re right.”
Fox News’ Jason Donner and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.