House Democrats Hold First Jan. 6 Hearing, Capitol Police Officers Testify

By Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Senior Reporter
Jack Phillips is a reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.
July 27, 2021 Updated: July 27, 2021

The select committee formed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) began its first hearing Tuesday into the Jan. 6 Capitol incident.

Among Democrats, Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Elaine Luria (D-Va.), Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) were appointed to the committee, which is chaired by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.). Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), two critics of former President Donald Trump, were also tapped to join the panel.

Thompson and Cheney were the two first lawmakers to deliver their statements. Cheney said that individuals who were allegedly involved in the Jan. 6 Capitol incident should be called to testify and be held accountable.

And if they don’t comply, Cheney added, subpoenas should be sent out. “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,” the Wyoming lawmaker said.

“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,” Cheney said. Cheney did not elaborate on whether Trump himself should testify in front of the panel.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) last week withdrew his GOP picks to the panel after Pelosi refused to confirm Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) to the committee and on Monday described Kinzinger and Cheney as “Pelosi Republicans.” McCarthy was noncommital when asked by a reporter about whether he would boot the two lawmakers from their congressional committees, saying: “We’ll see.”

Later on Tuesday, the panel showed then heavily edited video footage from the breach, including rioters pushing police lines, breaking windows, and entering the Capitol.

Several Capitol Police officers gave their testimony to the lawmakers, with one—Aquilino Gonell, a Capitol Police sergeant—saying that he feared for his life during the incident more than six months ago.

“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 in the hearing.

Most Republicans in the House and Senate want to move on from Jan. 6, arguing that the incident has been heavily litigated and investigated so far. Pelosi and other Democrats, however, have argued that the panel is needed because it will thoroughly investigate the incident.

For months, Democrats alleged that an officer, Brian Sicknick, was killed during the Capitol breach and cited a now-changed New York Times report. However, it was revealed later by the Washington D.C. Medical Examiner’s office that he died from natural causes and said he suffered two strokes a day after. Several Trump supporters died during the incident, including Ashli Babbitt, a U.S. Air Force veteran who was shot and killed by an unnamed officer.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) says that more than 500 people were arrested in connection to the Jan. 6 incident so far, while some lawyers and family members of suspects who are currently jailed in Washington recently said they’re facing abuse while behind bars.

Lawyers John Pierce and Steven Metcalf II, who represent several of the defendants, told EpochTV’s “The Nation Speaks” earlier this month that among the close to 500 arrested so far in connection with the Jan. 6 incident, more than 50 are being held pretrial in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day and in conditions that are “unconstitutional” and violate “every single basic human right.”

Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Senior Reporter
Jack Phillips is a reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.