Jim Bourg | Reuters
“I was grabbed, beaten, Tased, all while being called a traitor to my country,” Metropolitan Police Department Officer Michael Fanone testified before the select committee investigating the Capitol invasion.
“I was at risk of being stripped of and killed with my own firearm, as I heard chants of, ‘Kill him with his own gun,'” Fanone said.
The four officers’ testimony painted a picture of a vicious, weapon-wielding mob that was willing to assault the police in pursuit of its goal of stopping Congress from confirming Joe Biden‘s electoral victory over then-President Donald Trump, who had spent weeks falsely claiming the election had been stolen from him.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., who is leading the Jan. 6 panel and chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, and Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., stressed at the start of the hearing that the problems that led to the invasion have not been solved. “This threat hasn’t gone away. It looms over our democracy like a dark cloud,” Thompson said.
Earlier Tuesday, Cheney suggested that the investigation might subpoena Trump and House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy. “It could,” Cheney told ABC News on Tuesday morning. “The committee will go wherever we need to go to get to the facts.”
Sgt. Aquilino Gonell of the U.S. Capitol Police described being crushed by a group of rioters pushing their way into the building.
“I could feel myself losing oxygen and recall thinking to myself, ‘This is how I’m going to die, defending this entrance,” Gonell said.
Another USCP witness, Pvt. First Class Harry Dunn, said that a group of Trump supporters hurled racist slurs when they found out he had voted for Biden.
“One woman in a pink ‘MAGA’ shirt yelled, ‘You hear that, guys, this n—– voted for Joe Biden!’ Then the crowd, perhaps around twenty people, joined in, screaming ‘Boo! Fucking n—–!’
DC Metropolitan Police Department Officers Michael Fanone (L) and Daniel Hodges (R) arrive to testify before the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on US Capitol on July 27, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.
Jim Lo Scalzo | Getty Images
The law enforcement officials spoke after lawmakers on the panel called for more facts and accountability, including from the Trump White House. Investigators must figure out “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,” said Cheney, one of two Republicans on the nine-member panel.
“Honorable men and women have an obligation to step forward. 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.
Before the mob broke into the Capitol, Trump held a rally outside the White House and heaped pressure on Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence, to challenge key states’ Electoral College results. He exhorted the crowd to march to the Capitol, telling them, “If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
As throngs of rioters broke through lines of law enforcement officers and streamed into the Capitol, Trump initially lashed out at Pence on Twitter for refusing to reject electoral votes. Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done,” Trump tweeted.
He later posted a video urging the attempted insurrectionists to go home, adding, “We love you. You’re very special.”
The House committee, whose members were all appointed by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was created after Senate Republicans voted down an independent, “9/11-style” commission to study the invasion.
Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, both vocal critics of Trump in the wake of Jan. 6, are the only Republicans on the panel. House Republicans voted to strip Cheney of her House leadership role after she refused to stop criticizing Trump for spreading the lie that the 2020 election was rigged to favor President Joe Biden.
McCarthy submitted five Republicans to be added to the select committee, but withdrew all their names after Pelosi rejected two of his picks. One of those rejects, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, may be a material witness in the probe, Cheney said last week.
In opening minutes of the hearing, Thompson played a video that spliced together footage from in and around the Capitol during the siege. The video showed rioters attacking police, shooting sprays and throwing objects, breaking windows and other property, threatening lawmakers by name and calling for the election results to be reversed.
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