The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol kicked off its first high-profile hearing Tuesday with a warning from Democratic Chairman Bennie Thompson that “we cannot allow ourselves to be undone by liars and cheaters,” while GOP Rep. Liz Cheney called for prompt enforcement of subpoenas.
Cheney stated in her opening remarks that “The task of the committee will require persistence.” We must quickly issue and enforce subpoenas. We must find the objective truth. We have to overcome all the efforts that we make to hide and obscure facts.”
The hearing is focusing on testimony from four officers giving firsthand accounts of the horrors they witnessed and endured as rioters stormed the building.
Officers recount the horrendous attacks they suffered on January 6. They were beaten with flagpoles, crushed indoor sides, subject to racial slurs, and confronted by rioters who threatened them.
The committee presented video footage showing the Capitol being stored at the beginning of the hearing.
“These rioters had been organized. In his opening statement, Thompson stated that they were ready to fight and came very close to winning. It’s scary to think of how close we came. Just a few inches between wood and glass. An officer turning left rather than turning right.
Thompson blasted the “Big Lie” that Donald Trump had spread about the election being stolen and said that “we know that attempts to subvert our democracy continue.” The Select Committee will work to eliminate this threat.
This emotional testimony marks the beginning of the investigation by the committee into the circumstances of the attack. Democratic leaders seek to set the tone for a panel that congressional Republicans dismiss as a political sideshow that was created to discredit the legacy left behind by the former President.
The goal Tuesday, according to select committee member Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, is to portray what it was like “to be on the front lines for the brave police officers” and to push back on efforts to whitewash the events of that day.
Schiff stated to CNN that he hopes that the hearing will help Americans get a better understanding of the events of the day, the horror, and how the brave police officers saved so many people’s lives.
The hearing is only the beginning. The seven Democrats and two Republicans who were appointed by Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker will debate how to make the most impact and which documents to search. They will also decide whether to try to force Trump to testify, along with some of their Republican colleagues.
The accounts of the four officers, DC Metropolitan Police Officers Daniel Hodges & Michael Fanon and Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, will be taken by the committee. Aquilino Gnell — to serve as a starting point for a probe that could result in seeking documents and testimony from the former President, his staff, and even Republican members.
Democrats had pushed for an independent commission to get to the bottom of how pro-Trump supporters breached the Capitol in a deadly riot, attacked police officers, and disrupted the certification of Joe Biden’s November election win. After Senate Republicans blocked the commission, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi moved forward with a select committee.
Cheney stated in her opening remarks that “On January 6th, and the following days, almost all members in my party recognized that the events of that date were what they really were.” “No member should now attempt to defend or obstruct the investigation, or cover up what happened that day.”
Pelosi requested that the select committee provide an in-depth account of the events surrounding the attack. The House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has been furious at the actions taken by the California Democrat, including closing down two of his picks to the select committee for their past statements and actions which bolstered Trump’s false narrative that the election was stolen.
Pelosi appointed Cheney to the select panel, but after rejecting Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio) and Jim Banks (Indiana), McCarthy removed the remaining Republicans from the committee. Pelosi responded to McCarthy’s rejection by adding Rep. Adam Kinzinger (an Illinois Republican) to the panel to increase its bipartisan credibility.
Cheney will make an opening statement following the Democratic Rep., to show the importance of Republicans serving on the panel, at Pelosi’s request. Bennie Thompson from Mississippi.
Kinzinger and Cheney have been met with strong criticism for their joining Pelosi’s committee. Conservatives argue that they should be removed from other committee slots. These threats will not deter the two members.
Kinzinger stated Monday that if the conference decides or if Kevin decides that they want to punish Liz Cheney, I believe that it says more about them than it does for me.
The Congressional Republicans have their own program to rebut McCarthy’s select committee. McCarthy and five of the members that the California Republican wanted to appoint will hold a news conference Tuesday morning before the hearing. The news conference will allow them to voice their grievances but the Republicans won’t be there to defend Trump against the likely attacks from Democrats.
The two Republican voices on this select committee are instead the loudest Trump critics in the House GOP Conference.
However, Tuesday’s hearing will likely be more focused on the visceral threat the officers experienced on January 6 at the Capitol’s front lines.
Video from a body camera shows Fanon being pulled into the crowd and repeatedly tased with his stun gun. Gosnell was beaten with a flagpole, and his hand was cut open. Dunn has spoken out against the racist abuses he and other Black officers suffered that day. Hodges was one of the most horrifying and well-known scenes of the riots. He was seen writhing in pain and being beaten by rioters while he was trapped in a doorway.