Live coverage: House panel holds first hearing on Jan. 6 probe
The select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol will hold its first hearing beginning at 9:30 a.m.
The Hill will be covering the hearing live here.
In his closing remarks before the committee, Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn compared the mob that stormed the Capitol trying to “stop the steal” fueled by Trump’s false claims of election fraud to a hitman hired to kill someone.
“If a hit man is hired and he kills somebody, the hitman goes to jail. But not only does the hitman go to jail, but the person who hired them does. It was an attack carried out on Jan. 6 and a hitman sent them. I want you to get to the bottom of that,” Dunn told lawmakers.
Dunn praised Cheney and Kinzinger for agreeing to serve on the panel despite the backlash from their party, but questioned why more Republicans weren’t following suit.
“Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are being lauded as courageous heroes. And while I agree with that notion, why? Because they told the truth? Why is telling the truth hard? I guess in this America, it is,” Dunn said.
In an apparent attempt to add a bit of historical context to the narrative around the insurrection, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) asked Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn what differentiated Jan. 6 from other violent protests he has encountered as a uniformed officer in the past.
“There’s an effort to portray the events of January 6th like some kind of resurrection of Dr. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington in 1963,” Raskin said. “I’ve seen a lot of protests here too,” he added, before listing a series of anti-gun and D.C. statehood rallies that have ignited Washington over the years.
“I’ve seen civil disobedience,” Raskin said.
Dunn acknowledged the instances to which Raskin was referring, while adding several other events that, in his view, could have become even more unruly than they ultimately did.
None, Dunn said, compared to what took place on Jan. 6.
“I’ll go a step further and talk about the ones that had the potential to be not so peaceful,” Dunn said, responding to Raskin during a segment of his questioning. “You had the Million Man March rally, the 20th anniversary of it. [There] was a lot of opposition to that. You had the Klan that came up here. You had people [who were] pro-gun that wanted to come up here. All of those had the potential to be very violent,” he said, “and frankly, quite deadly.”
“But they did not,” Dunn went on. “This wasn’t the first time, if I can use this quote, that the ‘MAGA’ people came up before. There were skirmishes but never the attempt to overthrow democracy.”
Recalling his experience of what unfolded at the Capitol scene, Dunn alluded to former President Trump’s instructions to supporters to cast doubt on the validity of the November presidential election.
“The only difference that I see is that they had marching orders, so to say,” Dunn concluded.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) fought back tears at the House select committee’s Tuesday hearing on Jan. 6 as he lamented the possibility of American democracy in peril if people refuse to accept the outcome of elections that are not in their favor.
Schiff, a member of the select panel who also chairs the House Intelligence Committee, initially followed up on earlier testimony from Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, a Black man who faced racial epithets from the mob of former President Trump’s supporters.
Dunn recounted sitting with a fellow Black Capitol Police officer in the Capitol Rotunda later on Jan. 6 and asking, “Is this America?”
“I’m very interested to know your thoughts on the answer to that question,” Schiff said to Dunn. “Is this America, what you saw?”
“To answer your question, frankly, I guess it is America. It shouldn’t be. But I guess that’s the way that things are. I don’t condone it. I don’t like it,” Dunn said, noting that “our colonies and state lines and boundaries exist because of violence and wars.”
Dunn, who lobbied members of Congress for an independent commission to investigate Jan. 6 earlier this year, expressed optimism that two Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), were also serving on the select committee.
“That’s the side of America that I say yes, this is America,” Dunn said.
Schiff, citing poet Amanda Gorman, mused that “I’d like to think… that we’re not broken, we’re just unfinished.”
“Because if we’re no longer committed to a peaceful transfer of power after our elections if our side doesn’t win, then God help us. If we deem elections illegitimate merely because they didn’t go our way, rather than trying to do better the next time, then God help us. And if we’re so driven by bigotry and hate that we attack our fellow citizens as traitors if they were born in another country or they don’t look like us…” Schiff trailed off.
Schiff then began tearing up and stopped to collect himself for a full 12 seconds.
“God help us. But I have faith because of folks like you,” Schiff told Dunn.
Schiff became emotional shortly after Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran, also fought back tears while addressing the four police officers testifying at the hearing.
“You guys won, you guys held,” Kinzinger told the officers. “Democracies are not defined by our bad days. We’re defined by how we come back from bad days.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) became emotional as he reflected on the events of Jan. 6, saying there’s a “difference between a crime and a coup.”
Kinzinger — an outspoken critic of former President Trump — is one of two Republicans serving on the select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6.
He began by addressing a panel of police officers who are testifying, telling them they “won” despite feeling otherwise.
“You guys won, you guys held,” Kinzinger said, fighting back tears. “Democracies are not defined by our bad days. We’re defined by how we come back from bad days.”
Kinzinger further slammed his GOP colleagues for treating the riot investigation as “another partisan fight,” blasting it as “toxic.”
“It’s a disservice to the officers and their families, to staff and employees of the Capitol complex, to the American people who deserve the truth, and to the generations who went to war before us to defend self governance,” Kinzinger said.
The Illinois Republican also criticized a counter-narrative to the Jan. 6 committee, comparing the violence at the Capitol to last summer’s unrest over racial injustice.
Kinzinger said he was called to serve during last year’s protests as an Air National Guardsman, and condemned the riots that resulted. However, he said that he never thought the future of self-governance was at stake.
“Not once did I ever feel like the future of self-governance was threatened like I did on Jan. 6,” Kinzinger said.
There’s a difference between breaking the law, even rejecting the rule of law. Between a crime — even grave crimes — and a coup,” he said.
— Jordan Williams
Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, who is Black, recounted in his opening statement before the committee how a group of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol yelled racial epithets at him after he told them to leave the building.
Dunn said that during the riot, he observed people wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and “Trump 2020” shirts, and told them to leave.
“No man, this is our house. President Trump invited us here. We’re here to stop the steal. Joe Biden is not the president. Nobody voted for Joe Biden,” they told him.
Dunn noted that as a law enforcement officer, “I do my best to keep politics out of my job.”
“But in this circumstance, I responded, ‘Well, I voted for Joe Biden. Does my vote not count? Am I nobody?’ “
Dunn sighed. “That prompted a torrent of racial epithets,” he said.
He said a woman in a pink MAGA shirt yelled, “You hear that guys, this n—– voted for Joe Biden.” Then the crowd of what he estimated was around 20 people joined in, screaming “boo f—ing n—–.”
“No one had ever, ever called me a n—– while wearing the uniform of a Capitol Police officer,” Dunn said.
Later that day after the rioters were cleared, Dunn said, he sat down on a bench in the Capitol Rotunda with a friend who is also a Black Capitol Police officer.
“I told him about the racial slurs I endured and became very emotional and began yelling, ‘How the blank could something like this happen? Is this America?’ ” Dunn said. “I began sobbing. Officers came over to console me.”
— Cristina Marcos
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) took a shot at former President Trump’s role in whitewashing the violence on Jan. 6, asking police officers to weigh in on his comments calling the rioters part of a “loving” crowd.
“When you think about that and share with us the vivid memory of the cruelty and the violence of the assault that day and then you hear former President Trump say quote ‘It was a loving crowd. There was a lot of love in the crowd,’ How does that make you feel?” Cheney asked Capitol Police Officer Aquilino Gonell, who has previously compared the day’s events to a medieval battle.
“It’s upsetting. It’s a pathetic excuse for his behavior, for something that he himself helped to create — this monstrosity. I’m still recovering from those hugs and kisses that day,” Gonell said.
“To me it’s insulting, its demoralizing because everything that we did was to prevent everyone in the Capitol from getting hurt and what he was doing — instead of sending the military, instead of sending support or telling his people, his supporters, to stop this nonsense — he egged them to continue fighting.”
Cheney is one of just two Republicans sitting on the committee, along with Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), after other Republicans boycotted the committee following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) rejection of two of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) original picks for the role.
— Rebecca Beitsch
Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges repeatedly referred to the Capitol rioters as “terrorists” while recounting his experience defending the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Hodges, one of hundreds of police officers who defended the Capitol, was seen on video being crushed in a door during the riots.
Hodges repeatedly used the word “terrorists” as he recounted making his way through a crowd with other officers and witnessing rioters climb the scaffolding.
He also described the flags he saw that day, saying it was “clear” the “terrorists” perceived themselves to be Christian, based on the Christian flags that he saw.
But Hodges also said he was “confused” to see rioters carrying the “thin blue line” flag, which is a symbol of support for police.
“To my perpetual confusion, I saw the thin blue line flag, a symbol of support from law enforcement more than once being carried by the terrorists as they ignored our commands and continued to assault us,” he said.
— Jordan Williams
Officer Harry Dunn called for a “moment of silence” before delivering his testimony to honor a fallen hero who lost his life on Jan. 6 while serving in uniform.
“Before I begin, I’d like to take a moment of my time to ask for a moment of silence for my fallen colleague Officer Brian Sicknick,” said Dunn, a Capitol Police officer.
Dunn noted that Sicknick “died from injuries he sustained in the line of duty defending the Capitol of our beloved democracy.”
He paused for a few seconds before starting to recount events, following other officers whose lives were endangered during the insurrection.
Sicknick died one day after the Capitol attack after having strokes, according to the chief medical examiner in Washington, D.C.
— Hanna Trudo
D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone said the Jan. 6 attack was “unlike anything” he’d ever seen in his law enforcement career.
Fanone, who is a narcotics officer, recounted to lawmakers his experience of having his badge ripped off and being beaten by rioters.
“In this line of work, it probably won’t shock you to know that I’ve dealt with some dicey situations. I thought I’d seen it all many times over,” Fanone said.
“Yet, what I witnessed and experienced on Jan. 6, 2021, was unlike anything I had ever seen, anything I’d ever experienced or could have imagined in my country,” he continued.
Fanone recounted rioters using his own Taser on him, and overhearing another who suggested killing him with his own gun.
“I was grabbed, tased, [and] beaten — all while being called a traitor to my country,” Fanone said.
“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.’ I can still hear those words in my head today,” he said.
Fanone then slammed House Republicans for downplaying the events of Jan. 6, calling their behavior “disgraceful.”
“The indifference being shown to my colleagues is disgraceful!” Fanone said, slamming his hand on the table.
“My law enforcement career prepared me to cope with some of the aspects of this experience,” Fanone said. “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.”
— Jordan Williams
Aquilino Gonell, a Capitol Police sergeant, said in an emotional opening statement before the panel that he repeatedly feared for his life while defending the Capitol on Jan. 6 and condemned the “shocking attempt” to whitewash the violence.
Gonell, an Army veteran, described how he and other officers were punched, picked, sprayed with chemical irritants and beaten with flagpoles by the rioters.
He recounted how the rioters called him a “traitor,” a “disgrace” and should even be executed, repeatedly wiping his eyes.
“On Jan. 6, for the first time, I was more afraid working at the Capitol than during my entire Army deployment to Iraq. In Iraq, we expected armed violence, because we were in a war zone. But nothing in my experience in the Army, or as a law enforcement officer, prepared me for what we confronted on Jan. 6,” Gonell said.
Gonell said that his wife and relatives frantically tried to reach him as they watched the terror unfold on television, but he wasn’t able to answer their messages until hours later “to let my own family know that I was alive.”
When he finally returned home around 4 a.m., he said, “I had to push my wife away from me because she wanted to hug me. And I told her no, because of all of the chemicals that my uniform had on.”
Gonell then teared up and stopped to collect himself.
“Sorry,” he said.
— Cristina Marcos
The first hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riots began with harrowing video of the events of the day, including an explicit video montage of what law enforcement defending the Capitol faced.
“Just describing that attack doesn’t come close to capturing what actually took place that day. So, we’re going to see what some of our witnesses saw on Jan. 6,” Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said in introducing the video.
The montage featured rioters pushing past police lines, breaking windows and breaking into the Capitol, and overwhelming law enforcement. The video also featured audio from law enforcement officers describing rioters throwing rocks and other objects.
The video also featured a rioter on a phone saying the mob was “coming for” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and then-Vice President Mike Pence.
“Can I speak to Pelosi? Yeah, we’re going b—-. Oh Mike Pence? We’re coming for you too you f—ing traitor,” the rioter said.
— Jordan Williams
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) warned at the start of Tuesday’s Jan. 6 committee hearing that a “cancer” will remain in America unless everyone involved in the planning of the Capitol attack is called to testify and held accountable.
If they don’t cooperate, the committee should “promptly” subpoena them, she said.
The opening statement from Cheney, one of two Republicans picked by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to serve on the special panel investigating the Jan. 6 riot, are aimed at the hundreds of pro-Trump supporters who invaded the Capitol that day but also Trump allies like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who spoke to former President Trump as the siege was underway and have defended the former president’s actions egging on his supporters.
“The American people deserve the full and open testimony of every person with knowledge of the planning and preparation for January 6th. … We must also know 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. Honorable men and women have an obligation to step forward,” Cheney said in her statement.
“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.”
Most Republicans want to move on from Jan. 6, and McCarthy and other GOP leaders held a news conference earlier Tuesday trying to cast blame on Pelosi for the security breach. But Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), the two Republicans on the special panel, have insisted that the violent insurrection of Jan. 6, and its causes, must be fully investigated.
“We must issue and enforce subpoenas promptly. We must get to the objective truth,” Cheney said. “We must overcome the many efforts we are already seeing to cover up and obscure the facts.”
— Scott Wong
Lawmakers shake hands with police
The first thing lawmakers on the Jan. 6 panel did at their first hearing investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was to shake the hands of the officers in attendance who are testifying.
All of those police defended the Capitol the day it was attacked by an angry mob of supporters of former President Trump.
Each of the lawmakers on the committee greeted two members of U.S. Capitol Police and two who serve on Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department.
“These rioters were organized. They were ready for a fight. And they came close to succeeding. 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,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the select committee, said in opening remarks.
“And while our institutions endured, and while Joe Biden is the legitimately elected president of the United States, a peaceful transfer of power didn’t happen this year.”
But Thompson also stressed the committee’s role in fighting those who have sought to diminish the events.
“Some people are trying to deny what happened. To whitewash it. To turn the insurrectionists into martyrs. But the whole world saw the reality of what happened on Jan. 6. The hangman’s gallows sitting out there on our National Mall. The flag of that first failed and disgraced rebellion against our union, being paraded through the Capitol. The hatred. The bigotry. The violence,” he said.
“And all of it for a vile, vile lie. Let’s be clear: The rioters who tried to rob us of our democracy were propelled here by a lie. As chairman of this committee, I will not give that lie any fertile ground.”
Thompson then introduced a graphic video recapturing the day’s events.
— Rebecca Beitsch
Police to offer testimony
Testimony from four police officers will take center stage on Tuesday as a panel begins its work investigating the events of Jan. 6 at the Capitol.
The officers were all on duty at the Capitol the day a mob of former President Trump’s supporters attacked the complex and interrupted the certification of the Electoral College count.
Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell of the Capitol Police and Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges of Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department are expected to give testimony about their experiences fighting with the mob that day and the enduring trauma they’ve faced.
Committee members plan to use videos — which officials warned are violent and profane — of the attack to allow the officers to react and explain the severity of what was happening.
— Cristina Marcos