Democrats began their investigation into the January 6 rebellion at the Capitol on Tuesday with a focus on law enforcement officers who were attacked and beaten when rioters stormed the building — in an effort to put a human confront on the day’s violence.
The police officers who are due to testify have been subjected to some of the worst atrocities. They were punched, trampled, crushed, and sprayed with irritating chemicals. They were branded with racial insults and threatened with their own weapons as crowds of then-President Donald Trump overpowered them, slashing windows and doors and interrupting Democratic presidential nomination Joe Biden.
“We’re going to tell this story from the start,” said Maryland Representative Jimmy Raskin, a Democrat who is a member of the unused House committee investigating the attack. “The righteous center of gravity is those officers who put their lives at risk for us.”
Testimony is given by Capitol Police officers Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gunnell and Metropolitan Police officers Michael Fannon and Daniel Hodges.
In previous interviews, Dunn said the attackers shouted racial slurs and fought him in what looked like hand-to-hand combat as he held them back. Gunnell, an Iraq veteran, detailed his foot surgery and the injuries he struggled to recover from. Fanon described how rioters dragged him down the steps of the Capitol, hit him with a stun gun, and beat him. Hodges was beaten and crushed between two doors, his bloodied confront and angry screams being videotaped.
The committee’s first hearing comes as partisan tensions have worsened since the uprising, with many Republicans downplaying or denying the violence that took place and denouncing the Democratic-led investigation as politically motivated. Democrats now want to launch the investigation — and triumph public support for it — by reminding people of how brutal it was, and how the law enforcement officers who swore to protect the Capitol suffered grave injuries at the hands of rioters.
“What we really want to try to convey during the hearing is what the situation has been like on the fore lines for these heroic police officers,” said Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, another member of the committee. “How many were there, and how militarized the crowd members were.”
The hope, Schiff said, is “to inform the public of what really happened that day, particularly in light of the efforts to whitewash this part of our history now.”
The committee chair, Mississippi Representative Benny Thompson, said the hearing will “set the tone” for the investigation, which will examine not only Trump’s role in the insurgency but the right-wing groups that co-ordinated prior the attack, white supremacists. among them.
It will also look at the security failures that allowed hundreds of people to breach the Capitol and prompted lawmakers to run for their lives. Some of those who stormed the venue were demanding the killing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then Vice President Mike Pence, who were both hiding within a few feet of the mob.
Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, one of two Republican members of the committee, will make opening remarks following Thompson — an attempt by Democrats to appear as bipartisan as conceivable. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy withdrew the participation of the other Republicans final week following Pelosi dismissed two of them, saying their “actions” in support of Trump, and his lies in winning the election, were not appropriate for grave investigation. . The House of Representatives voted Monday night against a resolution introduced by the Republican Party leader to force members to sit on the committee.
McCarthy has remained close to Trump since the uprising and threatened to withdraw the committee’s duties from any Republicans who participate in the Jan. 6 committee. On Monday, he called Cheney and Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger, who is also a member of the committee, “Republicans of Pelosi,” an effort that Cheney immediately called “childish.”
“We have significant work to do,” Cheney said Monday, as the committee met to prepare.
Outside the meeting itself, Kinzinger said that “for a lengthy time, we’ve been pretending January 6th didn’t happen.” He said he never expected to be in this position, “but when you have these intrigues that preserve thriving, and when the lies and misinformation preserve thriving, it’s essential for us as members of Congress to get to the answers.”
Soon following the rebellion, nearly every Republican denounced the violent gangs — and Trump himself, who told his supporters to “fight like hell” to reverse his defeat. But many have softened their tone in recent months and weeks.
Some went even further, with Georgia Rep. Andrew Clyde saying a video of the rioters appeared to be a “average tourist visit,” Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar said repeatedly that a woman was shot lifeless by police while trying to collapse in the House chamber. executed”. Others falsely claimed that Democrats or liberal groups were responsible for the attack.
On Tuesday, a group of Republican Party members intends to grip a press conference about the arrested disobedient, calling them “prisoners.”
The officers testifying have become increasingly politically active in recent months, moving from office to office in May to pressure Senate Republicans to support an outside committee investigating the rebellion. The Republican Party in the Senate ultimately rejected this effort, even though that committee would have split evenly among the parties.
In June, the group watched from the show as the House of Representatives voted to set up an investigation of its own instead.
After that vote, group members said they were disappointed with the Republican response — only Cheney and Kinzinger voted for the committee. “It’s very personal to me,” Fanon said, shaking. Dunn said he can’t believe so many of them would vote against the investigation.
“I didn’t think it would be this close,” Dunn said. “I thought it would be, everyone wants to get to the base of the matter.”
Associated Press writers Eric Tucker, Kevin Friking, and Padmananda Rama contributed to this report.