House Panel Holds Hearing On The Capitol Riot. 2nd Hearing Is Unscheduled
SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:
An emotional day at the Capitol is leading to new questions over what comes next. After the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack held its first hearing, four police officers who responded to the scene gave vivid accounts, sometimes in graphic detail, about what happened.
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MICHAEL FANONE: I remember thinking there was a very good chance I would be torn apart or shot to death with my own weapon.
DANIEL HODGES: One latched on to my face and got his thumb in my right eye, attempting to gouge it out.
HARRY DUNN: I sat down on a bench in the rotunda with a friend of mine who was also a Black Capitol police officer and told him about the racial slurs I endured.
AQUILINO GONELL: I was more afraid to work at the Capitol than in my entire deployment to Iraq.
MCCAMMON: The voices of D.C. Metropolitan Police officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges and Capitol Police officers Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell. NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas listened to all of it and joins us now. Hi, Ryan.
RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Good morning.
MCCAMMON: As we heard, it was an intense day of testimony. What stood out the most to you?
LUCAS: Well, it was an emotional day for the officers testifying and the lawmakers on the panel, but it was also very visceral. The testimony put listeners and viewers into the shoes of these four police officers and what they experienced on January 6. Here's Michael Fanone again of D.C.'s Metropolitan Police.
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FANONE: I was grabbed, beaten, tased, all while being called a traitor to my country. 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.
LUCAS: The officers talked about how the mob attacked them with police shields and batons, sledgehammers, flagpoles, metal bars, rocks - really, anything that they could put their hands on. And there was also the verbal abuse, as we heard from Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn, who is Black, and said he was repeatedly called the N-word by the mob. So all four of these officers that we heard from were quite blunt about the physical and psychological trauma of January 6 and the lingering aftereffects from it.
MCCAMMON: And it sounds like their testimony refuted at least two claims we've heard - that the rioters were unarmed and that they were peaceful.
LUCAS: They did, and they also shot down conspiracy theories that it was antifa or Black Lives Matter or the FBI who actually staged the attack on the Capitol. The officers said the mob that attacked the Capitol was made up of Trump supporters. Many of the rioters told the officers on January 6 that Trump had sent them to the Capitol.
One other thing that struck me was the frustration that the officers expressed towards Republican lawmakers who are trying to downplay or whitewash the events of January 6. Here's Officer Gonell again.
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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.
MCCAMMON: What comes next here, Ryan, with this committee investigation?
LUCAS: That's a good question. The committee has not said yet who else they want to talk to, whether they'll call on members of Congress to testify, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, or even members of the Trump White House, like former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Subpoenaing a former White House official would likely face legal challenge and get tied up in the courts. But the chairman of the committee, Democrat Bennie Thompson, has said the panel may try to hold its next hearing as soon as next month.
MCCAMMON: NPR's Ryan Lucas. Thanks, Ryan.
LUCAS: Thank you.
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