beach_and_pier_-_2200x270_-_with_npr_and_cal_lu_1.jpg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Select Committee Heard From 4 Police Officers Who Defended The Capitol On Jan. 6

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

All right, NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis was watching today's hearing and joins us now.

Hi, Sue.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Hey, Ailsa.

CHANG: So the committee heard testimony today from four police officers who defended the Capitol on January 6. What were some of the details that they shared with everyone today?

DAVIS: It was gripping testimony. There were a lot of tears today, both from these officers and from the lawmakers who questioned them. Three of the four officers said at times they believed that they were going to die on January 6. They all testified to the physical and emotional trauma that they've suffered and were quite candid about how January 6 has had lingering impacts on their mental health. One of the Capitol Police officers, Harry Dunn, recounted how he and other Black officers were called the N-word by some rioters. And they offered unambiguous testimony that from their perspective, the rioters were Trump supporters, that many of them were white supremacists and that they were there to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Capitol Police officer Aquilino Gonell expressed frustration at Republican lawmakers who have since minimized the attack, calling that a, quote, "disgrace."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AQUILINO GONELL: And now the same people who we helped, the same people who we gave them the borrowed time to get to safety, now they are attacking us. They're attacking our characters.

CHANG: Well, the leader of the House Republicans, Kevin McCarthy - he decided to boycott this committee because Speaker Pelosi had rejected two of his five nominees to serve on the committee. But there are still two Republicans serving at the request of Pelosi. How did they approach today's hearing?

DAVIS: Right, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. Both of them used their lines of questioning really to take on their own party. Cheney asked the officers about former President Trump's comments that it was a, quote, "loving crowd." Gonell said he believed the former president's actions that day were wrong, that he could have done more to stop the riot and chose not to. Kinzinger, who at times was one of the lawmakers who also broke down into tears, said his party has played a role in the ongoing misinformation around the attack.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ADAM KINZINGER: I'm a Republican. I'm a conservative. But in order to heal from the damage caused that day, we need to call out the facts. It's time to stop the outrage and the conspiracies that fuel the violence and division in this country. And most importantly, we need to reject those that promote it.

DAVIS: McCarthy's decision to boycott this committee may have been a tactical risk here because he has created a political situation where no one is defending the former president, even though most House Republicans continue to stand very firmly behind Donald Trump.

CHANG: Well, Sue, what is the ultimate goal of this committee? Like, how broad do you think this investigation will be?

DAVIS: What's interesting is that it's tasked with getting to the why of January 6. There has been one bipartisan Senate investigation, but they really focused on the military and security failings. The why is a trickier and way more political question to try to answer. But the resolution that established the committee says its mandate is to investigate what they call the influencing factors of the attack, including how social media played a role and possible ways it was financed. Officer Daniel Hodges, who's a D.C. metro police officer, said he wanted lawmakers to also investigate whether anyone in government played a role.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DANIEL HODGES: I need you guys to address if anyone in power had a role in this, if anyone in power coordinated or aided or abetted.

DAVIS: There's also no end date to the investigation. It will basically carry on until Democrats say they're done with it, and they will have to issue a final report with their findings.

CHANG: OK, and who else does the committee want to hear from now?

DAVIS: Well, they haven't said explicitly, but a key question is whether they're going to hear from any members of Congress or anyone who worked in the Trump administration. No one from the Trump administration has ever testified publicly about January 6. Our colleague Carrie Johnson today reported that the Justice Department has notified former DOJ officials to tell them it would not be appropriate to assert executive privilege if they're asked to testify. But if any Trump officials are subpoenaed, it could likely lead to some court fights to obtain that testimony.

CHANG: That is NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis.

Thank you, Sue.

DAVIS: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.