The vivid testimony places witness accounts on the document and a nationwide highlight on the insurrection, as soon as once more forcing a reckoning over the tragic events of January 6 for lawmakers on Capitol Hill in addition to the American public. Regardless of the testimony’s uncooked energy, entrenched partisan battle traces within the months following the assault and throughout the shaping of the choose committee have ensured that few minds are more likely to be modified. Democrats have denounced the Capitol riot as an assault on democracy, whereas Republicans have virtually uniformly downplayed and dismissed the insurrection’s implications, particularly former President Donald Trump’s incitement of it.
The committee heard gripping and emotional accounts from 4 officers — DC Metropolitan Police Officers Daniel Hodges and Michael Fanone and Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn and Sgt. Aquilino Gonell — and will use the testimony as a jumping-off level for embarking on a probe that would result in in search of testimony and paperwork from the previous President, his aides and even Republican members of Congress.
The witnesses made clear that the trauma and harm of the insurrection have had long-lasting penalties that they’re nonetheless struggling to take care of now. They spoke of how painful it has been to see makes an attempt to whitewash the insurrection, together with by members of Congress, and referred to as for a rigorous investigation to get to the underside of what occurred to make sure it’s by no means repeated.
“The physical violence we experienced was horrific and devastating,” Gonell advised the committee. “My fellow officers and I were punched, kicked, shoved, sprayed with chemical irritants and even blinded with eye-damaging lasers by a violent mob.”
“I was particularly shocked at seeing the insurrectionists violently attack us with the very American flag that they claimed they sought to protect,” he stated.
Fanone stated that he was “grabbed, beaten, tased, all while being called a traitor to my country,” and “was at risk of being stripped of and killed with my own firearm as I heard chants of ‘kill him with his own gun.’ I can still hear those words in my head today.”
Taking intention at efforts to rewrite the historical past of the insurrection, he stated, “What makes the struggle harder and more painful is to know so many of my fellow citizens, including so many of the people I put my life at risk to defend, are downplaying or outright denying what happened.”
“I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room, but too many are now telling me that hell doesn’t exist or that hell isn’t that bad,” Fanone stated. Visibly upset, he stated, “The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful.”
Many Republican fmembers of Congress have sought to downplay the insurrection within the weeks and months because it occurred, even some who forcefully denounced the events within the rapid aftermath of the assault.
Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the opposite Republican lawmaker serving on the committee alongside Kinzinger, stated in her opening remarks, “On January 6 and the days thereafter, almost all members of my party recognized the events of that day for what they actually were,” and then stated, “No member of Congress should now attempt to defend the indefensible, obstruct this investigation or whitewash what happened that day.”
In his feedback, Kinzinger sought to dismantle misinformation and name out his personal social gathering for attempting to delegitimize the efforts of the choose committee.
“For all the overheated rhetoric surrounding this committee, our mission is very simple: it’s to find the truth and it’s to ensure accountability,” Kinzinger stated. “Many in my party have treated this as just another partisan fight. It’s toxic and it’s a disservice.”
‘The job of this committee would require persistence’
The listening to began with a warning from Democratic Chairman Bennie Thompson that “we cannot allow ourselves to be undone by liars and cheaters,” whereas Cheney, one of two GOP members on the panel, referred to as for immediate enforcement of subpoenas.
“The task of this committee will require persistence,” Cheney stated in her opening remarks. “We must issue and enforce subpoenas promptly. We must get to objective truth. We must overcome the many efforts we are already seeing to cover up and obscure the facts.”
In a reference to Trump’s position in January 6, Cheney stated it’s crucial to “know what happened every minute of the day in the White House. Every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during and after the attack.”
At the beginning of the listening to the committee confirmed video footage with graphic content material depicting the violent storming of the Capitol, together with rioters making threats directed at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Vice President Mike Pence.
“These rioters were organized. They were ready for a fight … they came close to succeeding,” Thompson stated in his opening assertion. “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.”
As he denounced the “Big Lie” unfold by former President Donald Trump that the election was stolen, Thompson stated, “We know that efforts to subvert our democracy are ongoing, and a major part of the Select Committee’s work will be to find ways to eliminate that threat.”
Officers recount vicious assault
Body-camera footage reveals how Fanone was pulled into the group and tased repeatedly along with his personal stun gun. Gonell was crushed with a flagpole and his hand was sliced open. Dunn has spoken out in regards to the racist assaults he and different Black officers confronted that day. And Hodges was the officer in a single of essentially the most harrowing and well-known scenes from the riots, when he was writhing and screaming in ache whereas crushed in a doorway by a crowd of rioters.
“The two sides were at a stalemate at a metal door frame,” Hodges stated throughout his testimony as he recalled the horrific scene. “I inserted myself so the frame was at my back in an effort to give myself something to brace against,” he stated, describing how his arms turned pinned and “a man seized the opportunity of my vulnerability, grabbed the front of my gas mask and used it to beat my head against the door.”
Hodges described the rioters as “terrorists” and likened the mob to a “cult,” saying at one level throughout his testimony, “terrorists pushed through the line and engaged us in hand-to hand combat … one latched onto my face and got his thumb in my right eye, attempting to gouge it out. I cried out in pain and managed to shake him off.”
Dunn, who’s Black, testified that the rioters repeatedly focused him with him vicious racial slurs and referred to as him the n-word.
“In the days following the attempted insurrection, other black officers shared with me their own stories of racial abuse on January 6,” he stated.
At one level, he recalled rising emotional and yelling, “Is this America?” as he started sobbing whereas different officers tried to console him.
Long-lasting penalties of the assault
Testimony throughout the listening to underscored how the aftermath of the insurrection continues to have a devastating impact on front-line responders and those that witnessed the events firsthand.
Recalling the violence, Fanone stated, “Doctors told me that I had suffered a heart attack and I was later diagnosed with a concussion, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.”
“I have been left with the psychological trauma and the emotional anxiety of having survived such a horrific event,” he stated. During an interview with NCS’s Don Lemon later Tuesday, Fanone stated he had obtained an indignant voicemail with a quantity of profanities and slurs aimed toward him whereas he was testifying earlier within the day.
Dunn stated in his testimony, “More than six months later, January 6 still isn’t over for me … I’m now receiving private counseling therapy for the persistent emotional trauma of that day.”
He added, addressing fellow officers particularly, “There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking professional counseling. What we went through that day was traumatic.”
Calls for a rigorous investigation and what comes subsequent
At the tip of the listening to, Thompson requested the officers what they hope the committee will accomplish.
Hodges implored the committee to take motion, saying, “As patrol officers, we can only deal with the crimes that happen on the streets … 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 or abetted, or tried to downplay, tried to prevent the investigation of this terrorist attack because we can’t do it.”
The emotional testimony marks the beginning of the committee’s investigation into the circumstances surrounding the assault as Democratic leaders look to set the tone for a panel that congressional Republicans have dismissed as a political sideshow created merely to discredit the legacy of the previous President.
Pelosi has searched for the choose committee to have the ability to present an exhaustive accounting of the events surrounding the assault, the previous President’s position, how extremist teams had been capable of manage and how safety failures resulted within the lethal conflict. But the California Democrat has additionally taken steps which have infuriated House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, together with shutting down two of his picks for the choose committee as a result of of their previous statements and actions that bolstered Trump’s false narrative in regards to the election being stolen.
Cheney and Kinzinger have confronted sharp blowback for becoming a member of Pelosi’s committee, with conservatives arguing that they need to be faraway from their different committee slots. The two members have stated these threats will not deter them.
“If the conference decided or if Kevin decides they want to punish Liz Cheney and I for getting to the bottom and telling the truth, I think that probably says more about them than it does for us,” Kinzinger stated Monday.
This story and headline have been up to date with extra developments Tuesday.
NCS’s Manu Raju, Paul LeBlanc, Melanie Zanona and Ryan Nobles contributed to this report.