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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7:48 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

A bat, a flagpole: These were among the items used by rioters as weapons on Jan. 6, officer says

US Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell described the "common items" that were used by rioters as weapons on Jan. 6 to committee members.

"The way they were using these items, it was to hurt officers," Gonell said.

"A baseball bat, a hockey stick, a rebar, a flagpole, including the American flag, pepper spray, bear spray. So you name it. You had all these items and things that were thrown at us and used to attack us. Those are weapons," he said.

Gonell continued, "Our intent was to stop whoever was trying to come in through that door and those weapons that were used, those were common items. The way they were used and it was as weapons."

12:23 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Officer says police who defended the Capitol represent "the good side of America"

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Oliver Contreras/Pool/The New York Times/AP
Oliver Contreras/Pool/The New York Times/AP

US Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn compared the Jan. 6 insurrection as a war, with each officer fighting their own, different battle.

"It was a war that we fought, and a war is composed of a bunch of different battles, and everybody even sitting at this table fought a different battle that day, but it was all for the same war. As Black officers, I believe we fought a different battle also," Dunn said at the House select committee hearing.

Earlier in his testimony, Dunn recounted rioters calling him racial slurs during the insurrection.

"I guess it is America. It shouldn't be, but I guess that's the way that things are," he said.

Dunn said looking at the history of America, countries exist because of violence or because they won a battle.

"I guess it sounds silly, but I guess it is American... but it's not the side of America that I like," he said.

"It's not the side that any of us here represent. We represent the good side of America, the people that actually believe in decency, human decency, and we appeal to just the good in people, and that's what we want to see," Dunn added.

3:01 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Officer Fanone walks committee through his Jan. 6 bodycam footage: "They tortured me. They beat me"

Oliver Contreras/Pool/The New York Times/AP
Oliver Contreras/Pool/The New York Times/AP

DC Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone described his experience on Jan. 6 and walked lawmakers through the violent footage captured on his bodycam that shows rioters attacking him.

Fanone explained how he assisted officers from within the US Capitol and attempted to hold the police line.

"Many of them had gas masks, and quite a few had shields which they had taken away from law enforcement officers. They were using them to beat us at the front line. The first thing I told them was, 'Hey, man, we got to get these doors closed. We got injured officers in here.' And that really seemed to miss those guys off," Fanone said after a portion of his bodycam footage was shown during the hearing.

"They became incredibly violent and that's when that surge that you watched in some of the video began, and you had a large group at the mouth of that tunnel entrance trying to push their way through the officers who were fighting to defend it. I believe had they done so or had they accomplished that, they would have trampled us to death," he continued.

Fanone said that officers were able to eventually push the rioters out of the tunnel and were able to get outside, that's when he was "pulled" off the police line and into the crowd.

"I just remember getting violently assaulted from every direction. And eventually found myself out probably about 250, maybe 300 feet away, from the mouth of the tunnel where the other officers were at," Fanone said.

Fanone continued:

"I was trying to push guys off of me, create some space, all the while I recognized the fact that there were individuals that were trying to grab ahold of my gun. I remember one of them distinctly lunging at me time and time again trying to grab my gun. And I heard people in the crowd yelling 'Get his gun. Kill him with his own gun' and words to that effect. I thought about using my weapon. I believed that there were individuals in the crowd whose intentions were to kill me. And I came to that conclusion, because of the fact, that separated from these other officers, who were only trying to defend the Capitol, I no longer posed any type of threat, nor was I an impediment to them, you know, going inside of the building. But yet they tortured me. They beat me. I was struck with a taser device at the base of my skull numerous times. And they continued to do so, until I yelled out that I have kids. And I said that hoping to appeal to some of those individual's humanity and fortunately a few did step in and intervene on my behalf."

"They did assist me back towards the mouth of the tunnel entrance and other officers were then able to rescue me and pull me back inside. But at that point, I was unconscious and based off the body worn camera footage, it's believed that I was unconscious for approximately four minutes," he said.

Hear more from Officer Fanone:

12:03 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

US Capitol police sergeant calls Jan. 6 attack an "attempted coup"

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

US Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell called the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol an "attempted coup."

"It was an attempted coup that was happening at the Capitol that day. And if it had been another country, the US would have sent help," he said.

Gonell said that he was prepared to give his life that day to protect the Capitol and the members of Congress from the insurrectionists.

"My actions that day was to save you guys, regardless of my personal safety," he told the House committee.

"I still continue to wanting to do that, today, tomorrow and as long as I'm privileged do it and if it is demanded of myself do that in the future," he added.

12:03 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Officers say they can't move on from Jan. 6 without accountability

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger asked the four law enforcement officers appearing at the hearing if the Jan. 6 riot felt like "old history" to them.

"Sometimes I get, you know, we hear out there it's time to move on, right? It's been six whole months, time to move on. Does this feel like old history and time to move on, and just say yes or no," Kinzinger asked.

All four officers responded: no.

"There can be no moving on without accountability. There can be no healing until we make sure this can't happen again," DC police officer Daniel Hodges said.

"How do you move on without correcting what happened? No," said US Capitol police officer Harry Dunn.

12:01 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Republican lawmaker blames his party for lack of answers in emotional statement

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger called out other members of his party, saying "we need to reject those that promote" conspiracies about the insurrection on the US Capitol on Jan. 6.

He said he agreed to serve on this select committee because he wants to know what happened that day and present the facts to the public "free of conspiracy," adding he wants Americans to be able to trust the committee.

"This cannot continue to be a partisan fight. I'm a Republican. I'm a conservative. But in order to heal from the damage caused that day, we need to call out the facts. It is time to stop the outrage and the conspiracies that fuel the violence and division in this country and most importantly, we need to reject those that promote it," he said.

Kinzinger got emotional during his comments to the four officers who were testifying.

"I've talked to a number of you and gotten to know you. I think it is important to tell you right now, though, you guys may like individually feel a little broken. You all talked about the effects you have to deal with and you talk about the impact of that day. But guys won. You guys held," he said, getting choked up.

He said moving forward, the goal of the committee is to find the truth and ensure accountability. He said he is frustrated that there are still things that are unknown about the insurrection, now 6 months later.

Kinzinger said this is because Republicans have "treated this as just another partisan fight."

"It is toxic and it is a disservice to the officers and their families, to the staff and the employees on Capitol complex, to the American people who deserve the truth and to those generations before us who went to war to defend self governance. Because self governance is at stake," he said.

"Democracies are not defined by our bad days. We're defined by how we come back from bad days, how we take accountability for that," Kinzinger added.

Some context: Kinzinger has been a vocal critic of former President Donald Trump and was one of 10 House Republicans to vote for his second impeachment. Kinzinger served in the Air Force in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He continues to serve in the Air National Guard as a pilot.

4:34 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Officer at Capitol on Jan. 6: Rioters were saying "Trump sent us"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Chip Somodevilla/Pool/AP
Chip Somodevilla/Pool/AP

Former President Trump's remarks about the "loving" crowd that gathered for his speech before the Capitol insurrection are "insulting," Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell told the House select committee.

"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," Gonell said in response to a question from GOP Rep. Liz Cheney.

"To me, it is insulting, it is demoralizing because everything that we did was to prevent everyone in the capitol from getting hurt," the officer said.

Gonell said instead of telling his supporters clearly to stop their behavior from the beginning, he "egged them" on to keep fighting.

"I was in the lower west terrace fighting alongside these officers, and all of them (rioters), all of them were telling us 'Trump sent us,'" Gonell said.

"It was not Antifa, it was not or 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 talks about sacrificing, sacrifices; well now, the only thing that he has sacrificed is the institutions of the country and the country itself only for his ego," Gonell said.

11:43 a.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Police officer recounts violence at the Capitol, including officer who had to have tip of finger removed 

From CNN's Elise Hammond

One officer had to have the tip of his finger removed, another was shocked with a cattle prod, and another was hit in the head so hard, he is still out of medical leave, DC Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges said, citing just a few examples of violence he witnessed first-hand on the day of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

During his testimony at a select committee on Tuesday, Hodges said one of his sergeants was struck by one of the rioters and fractured his finger. Instead of leaving, he wrapped it up in tape and a napkin and continued to fight for several more hours before finally accepting a medical evacuation.

"He just put some tape on it and a napkin and went back to work," Hodges said. "He ended up having to have the tip of his finger removed."

Another officer, Hodges said, was hit in the head by a "large heavy object" that was thrown at them. He has not returned to work, "but at the time he was still fighting," Hodges said.

He recounts another officer, who was soaked with spray, was shocked "several times" by a cattle prod one of the rioters brought with them.

"I know that another officer found a Capitol Police officer was being dragged out into the crowd and he was unable to signal to us what was going on. So he charged in there by himself and got that officer back out of there and in the process, hyper-extended his knee and took several other injuries," he said.

11:42 a.m. ET, July 27, 2021

DC police officer says he was assaulted with his own gas mask by a Capitol rioter

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Jim Bourg/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Jim Bourg/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

DC Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges said he was beaten with his own gas mask on Jan. 6.

At one point, with his arms pinned and trapped between a shield and door frame, Hodges said a rioter bashed his head with a huge mob behind him.

"Directly in front of me, a man seized the opportunity of my vulnerability to grab the front of my gas mask and used it beat my head against the door," he said while testifying about the Capitol riot before the House select committee.

"He never uttered any words I recognized but opted instead for guttural screams. I remember him foaming at the mouth. He also put his cell phone in the mouth so that he had both hands free to assault me," Hodges said.

Hodges said he screamed for help and an officer was able to assist him out of the mob.

The officer repeatedly called the rioters "terrorists" during his testimony.

Earlier in the day on Jan. 6, Hodges said rioters called the officers traitors and mocked their numbers.

"As we came close to the terrorists, our line was divided and we came under attack. A man attempted to rip the baton from my hands. ... He yelled at me 'You're on the wrong team,'" Hodges said.

"One of the terrorists who had scaled the scaffolding that adorned the Capitol at the time threw something heavy down at me and struck me in the head, disorienting me. I suspect this resulted in the likely concussion I dealt with in the weeks after," he said.

There were also many flags in the crowd, he said, including American, pro-Trump and religious flags.

"To my perpetual confusion, I saw the thin blue line flag, the symbol of support for law enforcement more than once being carried by the terrorists as they ignored our commands and continued to assault us," he added.  

Hodges described the fight as a "chaotic melee" with chemical sprays hanging thick in the air.

"One latched on to my face and got his thumb in my right eye, attempting to gouge it out. I cried out in pain, managed to shake him off. Managed to shake him off before any permanent damage was done," he said.

Hodges called the frontline a "meat grinder."

"The terrorists had a wall of shields that they had stolen from officers as well as stolen batons and whatever other armaments they brought. Even during this contest of wills, they tried to convert us to their cult," Hodges said.