Liz Cheney Interviews Capitol Police Officers About Their Experiences During the Capitol Attack
Serving on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney spoke with numerous members of the United States Capitol Police, as well as members of the DC Metropolitan Police Department about their experiences on that fateful day in early January.
Congresswoman Cheney began the proceedings by offering her support for the members of the police.
"Thank you to all of our witnesses for your heroism and your bravery that day and also for being here today and telling your story," Cheney began. "I certainly join the Chairman and every member of this committee in our commitment to making sure we get to the truth and that those who did this are accountable."
Cheney spoke first with U.S. Capitol Police Officer Aquilino Gonell, asking him about what he went through that day, and how he felt about some of former president Donald Trump's comments regarding the crowd.
"You describe in your testimony that it was -- you said it was like a medieval battlefield and that what you were subjected to that day was something like a medieval battlefield," she said. "You said, 'We fought hand-to-hand and inch-by-inch to prevent an invasion of the Capitol by a violent mob, intent on subverting our democratic process.'"
The officer agreed, to which Cheney then asked how he felt, then, when former president Trump said 'It was a loving crowd; there was a lot of love in the crowd.'"
"It's upsetting," the officer replied. "It is a pathetic excuse for his behavior, for something that he himself helped to create this monstrosity. I'm still recovering from those ‘hugs and kisses’ that day -- that he claimed that so many rioters, terrorists, were assaulting us that day. If that was ‘hugs and kisses,’ then we should all go to his house and do the same thing to him.
"To me, it's insulting, it’s demoralizing because everything that we did was to prevent everyone in the Capitol from getting hurt. And what he was doing, instead of sending the military, instead of sending the support or telling his people, his supporters, to stop this nonsense, he egged them to continue fighting. I was in the lower west terrace fighting alongside these officers, and all of them, all of them, were telling us, 'Trump sent us.'
"Nobody else – there was nobody else. It was not Antifa. It was not Black Lives Matter. It was not the FBI. It was his supporters that he sent them over to the Capitol that day, and he could have done a lot of things. One of them was to tell them to stop. He talked about sacrificing. Sacrifices were not -- the only thing that he has sacrificed is the institutions of the country. In the country itself, only for his ego, because he wants to continue-- He wants the job, but he doesn't want to do the job, and that’s a shame on him and himself."
Cheney then questioned Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, asking him if he thought 'The seat of American Democracy' was being threatened.
"Well, my response to that day really was based off of my obligation as a police officer to not only protect the lives of the Members of Congress and their staff, but also to my fellow officers," he responded. "The politics of that day really didn't play into my response at all."
Cheney also asked MPD Officer Daniel Hodges if, when seeing a crowd that was wearing tactical gear, ballistic vests, goggles, and more, he thought a threat might be possible.
"It was absolutely a source of concern," Hodges stated. "Like I said, they had outer carrier vests designed to carry ballistic shielding, helmets, goggles, face masks, backpacks filled with unknown objects. And I couldn't get a count and we couldn't stop and search everyone, but so I don't know how many there were. But I know that it was obviously a concern of mine."
Cheney then eluded to a text message that USCP Private First Class Harry Dunn had received that day, and asked him to elaborate on it.
"We were expecting civil disobedience, as we do at the Capitol," Dunn stated. "At least that was what was relayed to us -- a couple arrests, name calling, you know, unfriendly people, but nowhere near the level of violence or even close to it, like we experienced. When I received the text message, it made the hairs on my neck rise, but since our chain of command had not told us to prepare for any of these levels of violence, I was like, “Okay, whatever.” I've been here, I started year fourteen in November and have dealt with hundreds of protests where people get arrested and for peaceful First Amendment protests, everybody has the right to protest. Okay, do what you do and, you know, we'll arrest you if you break the law and we'll go home later that night. It was a lot different than that, but I was not alerted to the level of violence like -- the text messages I got foreshadowed that looking back, but we were not prepared for what we faced that day."
Cheney then, once again, reiterated her gratitude for the services that the officers provided on that day.
"It won't be forgotten and we will get to the bottom of this," she said.
Video of the testimony can be seen below.