It begins! Finally! A real congressional investigation into what happened on January 6, when Donald Trump incited his followers to commit an act of terrorism against the US Capitol in an attempt to steal an election he lost. We're sure House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy would like us to talk a lot about the CONTROVERSY that's led up to this day, and about how SOME SAY it won't even be a fair investigation, because there aren't an adequate number of people on the select committee who are on the terrorists' side. Not doing that.
The Democrats on the committee and the two Republicans Speaker Nancy Pelosi managed to find who don't believe in sedition — Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger — will begin shortly. Cheney will give an opening statement, as will Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson. Then we'll hear from four of the cops who protected members of Congress that day, including Michael Fanone, with whom Wonkette readers have gotten pretty familiar.
Politico Playbook has an excerpt, which itself includes an excerpt of Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson's op-ed in the Washington Post:
Uniformed police officers who put their lives on the line to defend Congress on Jan. 6 will testify about the horrors they endured that day. Rep. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-Miss.), the chair of the panel, previews their stories in a WaPo op-ed: "[Metropolitan Police officer MICHAEL] FANONE voluntarily rushed to the Capitol … [then] suffered a traumatic brain injury and a heart attack … [MPD officer DANIEL] HODGES can be seen being crushed by the mob as he and his fellow officers sought to defend a narrow hallway leading to a Capitol entrance … [U.S. Capitol Police officer HARRY] DUNN was one of the first officers to speak publicly about … the racial epithets he and others faced. [USCP officer AQUILINO] GONELL, a veteran who had been deployed to Iraq … was beaten with a pole carrying an American flag."
— Their testimony alone is a public relations disaster for Republicans. The GOP likes to boast that they "back the blue" and are the party of "law and order." But in snuffing out the possibility of a nonpartisan commission to probe the Jan. 6 attacks, McCarthy effectively brushed aside pleas from law enforcement to authorize the investigation. Now, after pulling out from the select committee, Republicans (save for Cheney and Kinzinger) will be absent as the officers speak.
Should be a fascinating and revelatory day. And Wonkette will be liveblogging it, as we will be doing for subsequent hearings.
9:32: And the hearing begins. Bennie Thompson will give his opening statement. Says there will be only facts in this investigation, no partisanship, no bullshit.
Says we know the following things about January 6. For example:
1) it was a violent attack on the Capitol
2) it was organized
3) they did it to try to overturn democracy
4) they know these efforts are still ongoing
5) seven people died that day
9:34: FYI, Just Security published and outstanding and extensive document full of questions this committee should ask in this investigation. Hopefully some members of Congress and their staffs have gotten copies of it.
9:39: The committee is now playing the first clip of what will be several unedited videos of the attack, focusing on what Trump's terrorists did to the Capitol and DC cops that day. Thompson warns that it's graphic, but they're playing it in full.
9:45: That was ... some footage! Toward the end there was quite a lot of "hang Mike Pence!" and terrorists screaming about all the people they were going to kill. All because of Donald Trump's fascist Big Lie.
9:46: Thompson recognizes Liz Cheney for her opening statement. Kevin McCarthy is calling her a "Pelosi Republican," we guess because of her refusal to side with the terrorists or promulgate Trump's Big Lie.
Cheney notes that everybody on the committee wanted an independent 9/11-style commission, and voted for it. Unfortunately the R's in the Senate killed that idea, so here's where we are.
9:49: CHENEY: I am totally a stinky Republican, but I am not a traitor. So I guess that's why I'm sitting here right now!
9:50: Cheney notes that on and just after January 6, most of her party saw the day for what it was. She's quoting fellow members, before they decided attacks on the Capitol to overturn democracy for Trump are OK.
9:53: Here are today's witnesses, all in full uniform.
9:55: Capitol Police officer Aquilino Gonell begins. Says it's "imperative" that what happened January 6 is fully investigated, and all responsible are held accountable. Says the attempts to whitewash what happened that day are "shocking." Calls the people who committed the attack "domestic extremists."
9:59: Gonell tells his story about coming from the Dominican Republic and becoming an American citizen, and deploying to Iraq in uniform for this country's Army, says he doesn't recognize his fellow citizens and what they did that day.
10:05: Here's a quote from a powerful CNN interview with Gonell, which echoes the testimony he's giving right now:
"They called us traitors. They beat us. They dragged us," Gonell told CNN, in his first interview about the violence he experienced and witnessed on January 6. "And I could hear them, 'We're going to shoot you. We're going to kill you. You're choosing your paycheck over the country. You're a disgrace. You're a traitor.'"
This is setting up to be quite a hearing. Very smart of the committee to start with this.
10:11: Gonell talks about hearing his fellow officers screaming in agony, he and them being crushed by these rioters, having their shields stripped from them ... whew.
10:14: Gonell literally ended up in tears describing what happened that day, and what happened for him after. These are the people whose stories Republicans do not ever want you to hear. You know, because of how they back the blue.
10:20: GONELL: "I could have lost my life that day. Not once, but multiple times." But says when he is fully recovered from his injuries, he will be back serving.
10:26: Whew, so Gonell's entire testimony was fantastic, and we will post all of it for you when we see video.
The hearing then went to the statement from Michael Fanone, who Wonkette has written about quite a few times. This guy has gone back and back and back again, to demand Congress do its job.
"I was grabbed, beaten, tased, all while being called a traitor to my country." He was at risk of being killed by his own gun, and he heard people saying "Kill him with his own gun!"
This is, of course, the guy who later said his response to rioters who actually DID stop rioting for a second and ended up protecting him was "Thank you, but fuck you for being there." Indeed.
10:35: Fanone has told his story before, but his testimony here today is much more vivid, as he's painted the picture of what it was like to fight these multitudes of terrorists in that narrow Capitol tunnel, describing how he was tased repeatedly, how he's pretty sure he was screaming, but couldn't hear his own voice. How he truly thought he would be torn from limb. How he ended up having a heart attack, getting a concussion, and a brain injury.
Oh yeah, and he wants y'all to see his bodycam footage.
10:37: "The indifference shown to my colleagues is DISGRACEFUL!" Fanone says he went to hell and back and now these motherfuckers are saying hell doesn't exist or hell wasn't that bad. He says those elected Republicans denying this are betraying their oaths of office, the same people he was fighting to defend.
10:42: Our livestream got delayed by a few minutes, but we seem to have fixed it. (Our TV was insisting it was playing it "live" when it ... wasn't? Oh well fuck it, we'll post all these videos when we have them.)
DC Officer Hodges is now telling his own story of a terrorist "foaming at the mouth," and making sure he had both hands free to assault the officer. He was bashed in the face with his own baton, and injured on his skull. He believed they were going to lynch him. Hodges was the one you've probably seen in footage many times, who was literally smashed into a door and pinned by the terrorists.
10:47: Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn starts his testimony by asking for a moment of silence for Brian Sicknick, who died because of the events of that day.
10:48: Dunn says he got a screenshot early in the day of what looked like an actual plan, based on "marching orders" from Donald Trump, to attack the Capitol, which he says foreshadowed what actually ended up happening. Remember, Republicans like to say that if there was a plan in place that morning, then Trump couldn't have incited it with his speech, which is horseshit, because Trump started inciting that terrorist attack the second he said the election would be stolen if he didn't win, which was many months before November of 2020.
10:54: Dunn says these insurrectionists told him "President Trump invited us here." Some fucking moron told him "nobody voted for Joe Biden."
He told them he had, and asked if his vote didn't count. "You hear that, guys? This [n-word] voted for Joe Biden." They screamed "BOO! Fucking [n-word]" at him. The number of times Officer Dunn was called that on that day ... and he's telling every single story. And he says many other Black officers told him the same stories.
10:59: Fox News is going to make fun of all these guys tonight. Just watch.
11:01: Whew. And that was just the opening statements.
Rep. Thompson says the questioning will begin now, recognizing himself first.
11:04: Hodges answering questions about other officers suffering similar injuries to those he suffered, and worse. Some of them still haven't been able to return to work because of their injuries.
11:08: Gonell compares the DC terrorist attack to his time in Iraq, says at least in Iraq they knew they were in a combat zone.
11:13: Dunn shares more testimony about what it felt like as a Black officer that day, protecting the Capitol, and having those racial slurs hurled at him, and then Liz Cheney takes over questioning, quoting Gonell, who had described the events that day as a "medieval battlefield." Meanwhile, Donald Trump described it as a "loving" crowd. Gonell calls that a "pathetic" excuse, and says, "I'm still recovering from those hugs and kisses that day."
"If that was hugs and kisses, I wish you'd all go to his house today and do that to him." (Possible slight paraphrase!)
11:16: Good god, Gonell is reading Trump for filth, talking about his ego, talking about how pathetic he is, this is GREAT.
11:22: Zoe Lofgren takes over questioning. By the way, they are going at a CLIP. And this is just the first hearing, Pelosi seems to have taken to heart the idea that quick 'n' dirty with these hearings is a GOOD THING.
Also Officer Gonell says he's real sorry for wishes hugs 'n' kisses on Donald Trump LOLOLOLOLOL.
11:27: Wow, Lofgren showed Fanone's bodycam footage, and it's just like he says it is. He's now walking us through what we saw in that footage.
11:34: As Fanone tells his harrowing story, he says there was a point when he realized he was "up shit creek without a paddle," because there is lots of SWEARS at Congress today! And honestly, good, because these guys shouldn't censor one damn word of it.
11:37: Now it's time for the other Republican on the committee, Adam Kinzinger, who says today has been far more emotional for him than he expected. Breaking into tears, he says, "You guys won" and that "democracies aren't defined by their bad days."
11:41: Kinzinger says he hears his GOP colleagues whine about how they want to investigate last summer's Black Lives Matter protests instead, and notes that in his national guard capacity, he responded to unrest last summer. But he takes care to point out that at no point last summer did he think self-governance or the rule of law were threatened. On January 6 he did.
11:44: Kinzinger is real pissed about the GOP conspiracy theories about how it was BLM, or it was antifa, or his personal (least) favorite, that it wasn't an "armed insurrection." He's asking the cops to explain how bullshit this is for idiots who are idiots.
11:48: Now here comes Adam Schiff, who's going to show bodycam footage from Officer Gonell.
11:51: Oh by the way, in news about future hearings of this committee, DOJ has decided not to put forth any BS "executive privilege" claims for "at least some" former Trump officials who know things about January 6. Let the subpoenas roll.
11:52: Here's one of the important videos from the opening statements, of Fanone pounding the table and calling the actions of Republican lawmakers DISGRACEFUL.
"The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful," Officer Fanone says. "Nothing, truly nothing, has prepar… https://t.co/s1BE029bmr— MSNBC (@MSNBC)1627396247.0
11:54: And here are Gonell's comments about Trump's "hugs and kisses." Because it's an Aaron Rupar thread, you can obviously click on it and watch MANY videos.
11:56: Gonell keeps piling on, saying people rewriting history and denying what happened January 6 are "pathetic" and "shouldn't be elected officials anymore." Schiff then gives Dunn a chance to talk some more about the KKK-style bigotry he suffered that day.
12:00: Oh great Adam Schiff is trying to one-up Adam Kinzinger by also crying, what is this CRYING ADAM day?
12:01: Now Pete Aguilar of California takes over. Can you imagine if Pelosi had allowed the seditionists on the panel, or if Kevin McCarthy hadn't had that little temper tantrum and pulled all this people off the committee? What a clownshow it would be. This, on the other hand, is what actual grownup congressional hearings are supposed to look like.
12:04: Aguilar and Hodges are discussing the weapons the terrorists used that day -- the over 9,000 terrorists -- and what went through officers' minds when it came to wondering how many guns were out there, how many bombs had been placed around DC, wondering if they started shooting would the terrorists use that as a cue to detonate bombs, how would a firefight between 175 officers and 9,000 terrorists actually go? Lot of considerations.
12:11: AGUILAR: Officer Hodges, why did you call this a white nationalist insurrection?
HODGES: They were all white men and there were all the "n-words" flying out of their mouths and also they tried to recruit me. Oh yeah, and they were there for Trump, so ...
12:15: And now Rep. Stephanie Murphy shows bodycam footage from Officer Hodges's bodycam, then shares her own personal story of his actions personally protecting her that day, and her hearing the officers care for each other and struggle together.
12:19: Wow, the story Murphy tells, sounds like they really did personally save her, even though they didn't know it. She and one other member of Congress were hiding a mere 40 feet away from one of the main basement battles, and they could hear the officers screaming. It was because they held that line that she and her colleague were able to escape. She notes that the reason no members of Congress were harmed that day was that the terrorists didn't manage to encounter any members of Congress that day.
12:25: Jamie Raskin tells the officers that those who attacked them that day were "fascist traitors to America" and would always be remembered that way.
12:29: Officer Dunn says one of the scariest things about January 6 is that the terrorists that day still think they were right to do what they did.
12:31: Raskin notes that on the "nether regions" of the internet, there is a conspiracy theory that people attacked Officer Fanone because they thought he might be antifa. He confirms that he's pretty sure they were able to identify him as a cop, especially when they ripped off his cop badge.
12:33: Raskin asks Fanone what Hodges thinks of fucking idiot GOP congressmen who say these terrorists were "tourists." Hodges says if these were "tourists," he can see why people in other countries don't like American tourists! It was FOR GENUINE funny.
Now Hodges is reading the definition of "terrorist" according to US law.
12:37: Gonell notes that it's weird to call these people "tourists," considering the amount of blood they spilled and concussions they caused and fingers they shattered.
12:44: Rep. Elaine Luria plays video from outside the Capitol of traitor terrorists screaming things like "Fuck the blue!" and calling the Capitol cops "traitors," and asks Fanone to respond. He says that stuff didn't really resonate with him that day, but rather the fact that thousands of Americans were there literally attacking cops protecting Congress while it tried to do its job.
12:47: TBH we'd like to get these cops' opinions on the filibuster. Can somebody ask Fanone to call the filibuster some names?
12:50: Bennie Thompson is wrapping up the hearing by asking the officers what they want the committee to figure out. Gonell had already answered, talking about getting to the bottom of who these groups are that organized the attack. Fanone is looking for similar, and whether there was collaboration between seditionist members of Congress and the terrorists. (We'd sure like to know!)
Hodges says Fanone "hit the nail on the head there." Says people who aided, abetted, coordinated, downplayed the terrorist attack should all be investigated.
Dunn pushes back against the idea that this "shouldn't be political," because the terrorists were literally there to "stop the [imaginary] steal." It was already political. Dunn notes that Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are being called heroes, and says he agrees, but asks "why? Because they told the truth? Why is that hard?" In today's political reality, a GOP elected official who tells the truth is indeed a unicorn.
12:56: Using an analogy, Dunn says he wants the hitman/men to go to jail for this, but also the people who hired them.
12:59: Hey, we haven't had a hearing liveblog in a minute, so we'll just note that Wonkette is 100 percent funded by readers like you, so if you love us and you love what we do, hit the buttons below and make donations at us. And we will be here to liveblog the next one!
1:11: Oh, now that the hearing is over, if you're curious what the seditionist Republicans were up to on "Earth 2," as Maddow calls it, here's a Wonkette post about the Republicans blaming January 6 on ... Nancy Pelosi? Yeah sure, that's what they'll go with.
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