Capitol riot committee holds first hearing

By Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha, Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner, Maureen Chowdhury and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 7:48 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021
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1:47 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Cheney on Republicans protesting on behalf of insurrectionists: "It's a disgrace"

 Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
 Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

GOP Rep. Liz Cheney said that the committee will be focused on "getting to the truth" of what happened on Jan. 6 in a nonpolitical, nonpartisan way, while speaking to reporters after the first hearing.

Cheney also called efforts by Republican leadership to downplay Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and protesting on behalf of insurrectionists a "disgrace."

"The fact that so many members of our leadership and others, the fact they've gone from recognizing what happened on the 6th to protesting in front of the Justice Department, on behalf of those who were part of the insurrection is something that I can't explain. I think it's a disgrace," Cheney said.

Cheney continued, "This is not a political campaign. This is deadly serious, and we'll investigate every aspect."

GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger reacted to threats of potentially being punished by Republican leadership for accepting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's appointment to the committee.

"All I have to say to that is we had a big attack on Jan. 6. We heard emotional testimony today, and that's what's on the forefront of my mind, and if people want to get petty, that's fine. I think that reflects more on people than it does on the situation at hand. This is a historic moment, and this is a democracy defending moment. And no matter the consequences, me, and I know Liz will stand and defend democracy," Kinzinger said.

2:32 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Here's what the officers testifying said they want the Jan. 6 committee to investigate

From left, US Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, DC police officer Michael Fanone, DC police officer Daniel Hodges, and US Capitol police officer Harry Dunn are sworn in to testify to the House select committee hearing on the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, July 27.
From left, US Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, DC police officer Michael Fanone, DC police officer Daniel Hodges, and US Capitol police officer Harry Dunn are sworn in to testify to the House select committee hearing on the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, July 27. Jim Bourg/Pool/AP

Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the House select committee, asked the four officers testifying at the hearing today what they want the committee to uncover in their investigation.

DC Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone asked the committee to investigate the organizing of Donald Trump's "stop the steal" rally and the "violent political rhetoric" leading up to and during the event.

He said that "the time, the place, and the circumstances of that rally, that rhetoric, and those events to me leads in the direction of our president," referring to former President Trump, "and other members" of Congress and the Senate.

He called for the committee to conduct "an investigation into those actions and activities which may have resulted in the events of Jan. 6," and whether or not there was "a collaboration between those members, their staff, and these terrorists."

DC Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges said that he thought Fanone "hit the nail on the head."

"As patrol officers, we can only deal with the crimes that happen on the streets, the misdemeanors and occasionally the violent felonies, but you guys are the only ones we've got to deal with crimes that occur above us. I need you guys to address if anyone in power had a role in this," he said. 

He called on the committee to uncover if "anyone in power" coordinated, tried to downplay, or tried to prevent the investigation of "this terrorist attack." 

"Because we can't do it. We're not allowed to. And I think the majority of Americans are really looking forward to that as well," Hodges said.

US Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn said he echoed the sentiment of the other officers and added that a "hitman" sent the insurrectionists to the Capitol that day.

"There was an attack carried out on Jan. 6, and a hitman sent them. I want you to get to the bottom of that," Dunn said.

Finally, US Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell asked the members of the committee to give law enforcement the "tools" to prevent future attacks like Jan. 6.

"I would also for you to give us the tools, or at least the things we need to continue to protect you guys. I think that's essential," he said.

"We still have security measures from 20 years ago that had to go. We need to reinvent the wheel and change that, but only you guys have the power to authorize that," he told the committee.

1:16 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Fact check: Rep. Jim Banks claims Pelosi "cherry picked" Jan. 6 committee assignments

From CNN's Holmes Lybrand

Rep. Jim Banks listens during a news conference in front of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, July 27.
Rep. Jim Banks listens during a news conference in front of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, July 27. Alex Wong/Getty Images

In a GOP news conference Tuesday morning designed to push back against the House Select Committee hearing on the Jan. 6 riot, Republicans criticized Speaker Nancy Pelosi for rejecting two of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s five picks to serve on the committee.

Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, one of the members Pelosi rejected, claimed that the Speaker “cherry picked the members to serve on this committee.” 

“She’s prewritten a narrative. Only members who will stick to her talking points are allowed to serve on this committee,” Banks said.

Facts First: This is misleading. McCarthy chose five Republicans to serve on the committee and Pelosi rejected two of those choices, Reps. Banks and Jim Jordan of Ohio. McCarthy then withdrew his three other choices, Reps. Rodney Davis of Illinois, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota and Troy Nehls of Texas. Nehls, along with Jordan and Banks, objected to the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

The House created this committee after Senate Republicans blocked the independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot in late May, 54 to 35. 

In a statement on her decision, Pelosi wrote that "With respect for the integrity of the investigation, with an insistence on the truth and with concern about statements made and actions taken by these Members, I must reject the recommendations of Representatives Banks and Jordan to the Select Committee.” Pelosi did not elaborate on why, specifically, those two members were rejected. 

Both Banks and Jordan have spread the false narrative that Pelosi was responsible for security failures on Jan. 6. Last Wednesday Jordan said “the Speaker was the “only one” who could explain the lack of “proper security presence at the Capitol that day.” Banks tweeted the same day Banks tweeted “@SpeakerPelosi, why did you block the National Guard from protecting the Capitol?”

McCarthy has criticized this decision, calling it an “abuse of power” and saying that “Pelosi has broken this institution.” The minority leader withdrew his other three choices and Pelosi has appointed two Republicans to the committee, Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, both of whom voted to impeach then-President Trump following the Jan. 6 riot.

1:08 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Officers: Lawmakers who I believe incited Jan. 6 violence are "the worst that America has to offer"

Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone testifies on Tuesday, July 27.
Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone testifies on Tuesday, July 27. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone reacted to video footage which shows rioters calling officers "traitors" and other derogatory remarks.

"At no point that day did I ever think about the politics of that crowd, even the things that were being said did not resonate in the midst of that chaos. But what did resonate was the fact that thousands of Americans were attacking police officers who were simply doing their job," Fanone said.

Fanone told committee members after reflecting on the events he believes that there were government officials who incited the violence.

"In retrospect now, thinking about those events, the things that were said, it's disgraceful members of our government, I believe were responsible for inciting that behavior and then continue to propagate those statements, things like this was the 1776, or that police officers who fought, risked their lives in some who gave theirs wore red coats," he said.

"To me those individuals are representative of the worst that America has to offer," Fanone told committee members.
1:44 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

DC police officer explains why he is referring to the Jan. 6 rioters as "terrorists"

Washington Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges watches footage from his body camera during the House select committee hearing on Tuesday, July 27.
Washington Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges watches footage from his body camera during the House select committee hearing on Tuesday, July 27. Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool/AP

Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin asked DC police officer Daniel Hodges about why he is repeatedly referring to the Jan. 6 rioters as "terrorists" during his hearing testimony today.

Raskin said, "Officer Hodges, I read your testimony carefully. I hope every American reads your testimony. But I noted that you referred to 'terrorists' or 'terrorism' 15 different times to describe the people" who seized the Capitol. Raskin noted that some of colleagues have been calling the violent insurrectionists "not terrorists, but 'tourists.'" 

"Well, if that is what American tourists are like, I can see why foreign countries don't like American tourists," Hodges responded, getting some laughs from the hearing room.

He said he can see why someone would take issue with the title of "terrorist" since "it's gained a lot of notoriety in our vocabulary in the past few decades." But, he said, he came "prepared" to explain why he uses the term to describe the rioters. Hodges then recited how US criminal codes describe "domestic terrorism."

"U.S. Code title 18 part 1 chapter 1.1.3, B as in brown, section 2.3.3.1. The term domestic terrorism means activities that involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any state and B, appeared to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, or to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping and occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States." 

Some more context: Some Republicans have tried to paint the events of Jan. 6 as mostly peaceful except for a few bad apples. Rep. Andrew Clyde, a Republican from Georgia, made one of the most egregious comparisons to downplay the riot, suggesting many members of the mob looked like regular tourists.

In a May Congressional hearing, Clyde claimed the attack looked like a "normal tourist visit."

“Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes taking videos and pictures. You know, if you didn't know the TV footage was a video from January the sixth, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit,” he said.

Clyde is referring to one moment after the rioters broke into the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall. Other footage of Jan. 6, however, shows rioters beating a police officer with a flagpole, as well as using police shields to smash through windows and clambering over the Capitol walls — not typical tourist behavior.

12:54 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Rioters who still "think they were right" is a "scary recipe" for the future, Capitol police officer says

Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, at right, watches a video during the House select committee hearing on the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, July 27.
Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, at right, watches a video during the House select committee hearing on the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, July 27. Oliver Contreras/The New York Times/Pool/AP

Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn said that Jan. 6 rioters had "marching orders" that led to violence during the insurrection.

Dunn, who had racial slurs thrown at him by rioters, said that Trump supporters had been to Washington, DC, in large numbers before, but Jan. 6 was different.

"There were some skirmishes, but never the attempt to overthrow democracy. I they this was maybe their second or third time that they had came up on Jan. 6. And even then, as belligerent as they were, it didn't account to this violence. So the only difference that I see in that is that they had marching orders, so to say," Dunn said.

"When people feel emboldened by people in power, they assume they're right. Like, one of the scariest things about Jan. 6 is that the people that were there, even to this day, think they were right. They think they were right. And that makes for a scary recipe for the future of this country. I think that's why it's important that you all take this committee seriously and get to the bottom of why this happened and let's make it never happen again," Dunn added.

Some more background: In December 2020, several people were stabbed and more than 30 were arrested during clashes between "Stop the Steal" protesters and counterprotesters. In November 2020, there were also skirmishes between anti-Trump protesters and Trump supporters, which resulted in at least 20 arrests.

1:00 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Cheney tweets thanks to officers: "Their heroism will never be forgotten"

From CNN's Sarah Fortinsky 

Rep. Liz Cheney just tweeted out a video of the four officers who were attacked on Jan. 6 testifying at the House select committee today and thanked them, writing, "Their heroism will never be forgotten."

"Thank you to Officer Fanone and Officer Hodges of the @DCPoliceDept & Private First Class Dunn and Sergeant Gonell of @CapitolPolice for their bravery," Cheney wrote. "Their heroism will never be forgotten."

"We must get to the truth and ensure that what happened on Jan. 6th never happens again."

Cheney is one of two lone Republicans on the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Earlier in the hearing, she delivered opening remarks, calling on Congress to act responsibly.

She said that the committee must learn "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. Honorable men and women have an obligation to step forward. 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," she said.

12:44 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Officer Hodges: People with ties to White supremacists were at the Capitol and tried to recruit me

Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges watches video from his body camera during the House select committee hearing on the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, July 27.
Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges watches video from his body camera during the House select committee hearing on the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, July 27. Andrew Harnik/Pool/AP

Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges told committee members that the rioters he encountered were "overwhelmingly White males" that vocalized White nationalist sentiments.

"The crowd was overwhelmingly White males, usually a little bit older, middle aged, older, but some younger. I think out of the entire time I was there I saw just two women and two Asian males. Everyone else was White males. They didn't say anything especially xenophobic to me but to my Black colleagues and to anyone who is not White," Hodges described to committee members.

Hodges said that some tried to recruit him to their cause, "Some of them would try to recruit me. One came and said, 'Are you my brother?'"

Hodges explained how there are many known organizations with ties to White supremacy that had a presence at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, including The Oath Keepers.

"Everyone I've ever — people who associate with Donald Trump are, I find, more likely to prescribe to that kind of belief system," Hodges said.

2:27 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Lawmaker says she was able to hug her children again because of the officers' actions on Jan. 6

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Rep. Stephanie Murphy speaks during a hearing by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, July 27.
Rep. Stephanie Murphy speaks during a hearing by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, July 27. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat from Florida, said the reason she was able to hug her children again after the Jan. 6 insurrection was because of the heroic actions of the officers testifying today, specifically DC Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges.

Hodges is seen in video footage holding a door with his body, preventing rioters from going further into the building. Murphy said she was in a small office with Rep. Kathleen Rice, a Democrat from New York, about 40 feet away from where the officers were.

"We had taken refuge in that office because we thought for sure being in the basement at the heart of the Capitol was the safest place we could be, and it turned out we ended up at the center of the storm," Murphy said.

The congresswoman said officers, like Hodges, prevented a tragic situation from becoming even more tragic. While officer Hodges was holding the door, Murphy said other officers were able to get her and Rice out of the office and down the hallway safely.

"Imagine if they had caught the two members of Congress that were just 40 feet from where you all were," she said.

"I think it's important for everybody, though, to remember that the main reason rioters didn't harm any members of Congress was because they didn't encounter any members of Congress," Murphy added.

She said she could hear officers yelling and struggling to breathe down the hall. During the hearing, Murphy thanked the officers for protecting her.

"I have a 10-year-old son and a 7-year-old daughter, and they're the light of my life. And the reason I was able to hug them again was because of the courage that you and your fellow officers showed that day, and so just a really heart felt thank you," she said.

When Murphy asked officer Hodges what he was fighting for that day, he said, "democracy."

"It was for democracy. It was for men and women of the House and Senate, it was for each other, and it was for the future of the country," Hodges said.