Testimony before the select committee began, and it was heartbreaking. The four testifying officers emphasized why this incident needs to be thoroughly investigated. Live coverage of the opening testimony was carried by several outlets.
Sergeant Aquilino Gonell placed blame squarely at the feet of former “president” Donald Trump. He discussed the lack of support the Capitol police received from the White House: “What he was doing, instead of sending the military, instead of sending support or telling his people, his supporters, to stop this nonsense, he begged them to continue fighting.” Trump caused this violence and sat on his hands, gleefully watching because it was all about him. All four officers were still visibly shaken.
Officer Michael Fanone was extremely passionate, pounding the table as he spoke. What bothers Fanone the most is not that he almost died but the fact that Republicans continue pretending January 6 never happened. He told the committee: “I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room.” As Officer Fanone said, this is disgraceful. How do Republicans sleep as night espousing their nonsense to the public? How can they claim to represent anyone when all they do is lie and obfuscate? Every one of them should be driven out of office, except for Cheney and Kinzinger, whose raw emotions were visible as he spoke.
The officers who came to the aid of Congressmembers suffered at the hands of these thugs, and Officer Harry Dunn shared that for the first time while in uniform, he was called the “n” word. These are Trump’s people. Make no mistake about that. These crude, violent, vile people are who Trump said he “loves,” and they are the ones whose votes are being courted by other Republicans. They should be ashamed to associate themselves with them, but their desire for power is far too great. They could care less what these people did and what many of them will do in the future. It is doubtful that they have enough feeling to understand Adam Kinzinger’s words ripping into them, but that is exactly what he did.
Kinzinger discussed the importance of self-governance and the truth, which is owed to the American people. He said that is why he agreed to serve on the committee; he also wants the truth and “to get the facts out there, free of conspiracy.” Kinzinger further voiced his shame that his fellow Republicans have turned the incident into a partisan fight, when it is nothing of the sort. It is a fight for the truth and a fight for our democracy.
Republicans showed their indifference by refusing to help Democrats form a bipartisan committee to hold these hearings. Now, Kevin McCarthy thinks it is a joke, referring to Cheney and Kinzinger as “Pelosi Republicans.” Laugh while you can, Kevin. You and those like you are a disgrace to this country. Officer Daniel Hodges told the committee: “This was a fight we could not afford to lose.” We must let his words drive us into the battle for our democracy, which we also cannot afford to lose.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years