First Jan. 6 select committee hearing gives cops spotlight

House Republicans will hold news conference ahead of hearing

From left, Sandra Garza, the companion of late Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, MPD Officer Michael Fanone and Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn arrive for a meeting on the Hill in May. Sicknick died shortly after defending the Capitol from the Jan. 6 rioters. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
From left, Sandra Garza, the companion of late Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, MPD Officer Michael Fanone and Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn arrive for a meeting on the Hill in May. Sicknick died shortly after defending the Capitol from the Jan. 6 rioters. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted July 26, 2021 at 7:41pm

At the first public meeting of the House Jan. 6 select committee, members on Tuesday will look to show the pain and suffering law enforcement officers endured while they fought to protect the Capitol from violent insurrectionists.

“What we really want to try to communicate during the hearing is what it was like to be on the front lines for these brave police officers,” panelist Adam B. Schiff, a California Democrat, told reporters on a conference call Monday.  “How vastly outnumbered they were. How well-militarized members of the crowd were in terms of the weapons they brought, the gear that they wore and just what a harrowing, terrible experience it was for these officers.”

The hearing will feature opening remarks from Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., followed by a statement by Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, one of two GOP members on the select committee, and one round of questions. It is not expected to be a marathon hearing.

The panel will hear from two members of the Capitol Police department — Officer Harry Dunn and Sgt. Aquilino Gonell — along with two members of the Metropolitan Police Department: Officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges.

Five people died in connection with Jan. 6, and more than 140 Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police officers were injured from that day. 

Video footage of the Capitol attack will be shown at various points during the hearing. The officers will describe what is happening in the footage based on what they experienced or witnessed. In some cases, the officers were in close proximity to each other, such as when Hodges was “trapped in that door” and Gonnell was “trying to help extricate him,” Schiff said.

The video segments will be brief but will be used as a medium to help the officers explain what they endured.

“We really want to hear from the officers, and the video is really designed as a way to have them explain what they went through and what they saw and what they confronted and be able to help explain that,” Schiff said.

The hearing comes at a time of transition for the Capitol Police. Its new chief, J. Thomas Manger, was sworn in Friday. He said he wanted the focus to be on the cops there, so he would not be at the hearing in person.

“Tomorrow should be about the officers and their stories. Today I checked on both of our officers who will be testifying,” he said in a statement.

The roster

There are currently nine members on the Jan. 6 committee: seven Democrats and two Republicans, all of whom were chosen by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Thompson, Schiff, Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Pete Aguilar of California, Jamie Raskin of Maryland, Elaine Luria of Virginia and Stephanie Murphy of Florida are the Democrats.

Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger and Cheney are the only Republicans on the select committee. Both were among 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach President Donald Trump after the insurrection. They also were among 35 members of their conference who voted in favor of an independent, 9/11-style commission and the only two House Republicans to vote to establish the Jan. 6 panel.

“Aren’t they kind of like Pelosi Republicans,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Monday of Kinzinger and Cheney at a White House event to recognize the 31st anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Pelosi said she would accept three of McCarthy’s five picks to the select panel: Reps. Rodney Davis of Illinois, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota and Troy Nehls of Texas. However, she blocked the appointment of Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana, who would have been the top Republican on the committee, and Jim Jordan of Ohio, saying they would detract from the integrity of the investigation. This move led McCarthy to rescind all five of his choices. 

Had McCarthy submitted replacements for Banks and Jordan, the committee would have had 13 members, five of whom were proposed by the Republican leader.

McCarthy will hold an 8 a.m. news conference Tuesday ahead of the select committee hearing’s 9:30 a.m. start, giving him a jump on the news cycle. He will be joined by all five of his panel picks, along with House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Elise Stefanik of New York. Stefanik, the No. 3 in House Republican leadership, replaced Cheney as conference chair after she was booted from the post for speaking out against Trump’s election falsehoods.

Banks, Jordan and Nehls all voted to overturn certain 2020 presidential election results after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Jordan has fueled Trump’s discredited allegations by saying that Democrats were attempting to steal the election, and he spoke at a “Stop the Steal” rally in November.

After Jordan and Banks were tapped by McCarthy for the select panel, Jordan told Newsmax it was “impeachment round three.” Banks, who chairs the Republican Study Committee, said Pelosi had created the panel to “malign conservatives” and indicated he would use his platform to attack the Biden administration, which was not in office on Jan. 6.

“I will do everything possible to give the American people the facts about the lead-up to Jan. 6, the riot that day, and the responses from Capitol leadership and the Biden administration,” Banks said.

“The other two made statements and took actions that just made it ridiculous to put them on such a committee seeking the truth,” Pelosi said last week about why she rejected Banks and Jordan.

On Monday, McCarthy introduced a privileged resolution that would have urged Pelosi to seat all of his picks to the select committee. The effort was tabled on a 218-197 vote. Cheney and Kinzinger were the only Republicans to vote to table the measure.

What’s next

Going forward, Schiff said he and his colleagues are working on outlining the scope of the investigation and the evidence they want to seek. He said they are placing an emphasis on obtaining all the documents they want from parties and agencies to ensure they are preserved and provided to the committee.

“We’ve already had discussions about the need to subpoena documents and the sense of urgency we have,” Schiff said, noting that panelists may move quickly to subpoena documents.

With regard to the Trump administration, Schiff said he wants to know about any warnings of who was organizing or coming to attack the Capitol, in addition to any contact or cooperation those entities may have had with the administration or advisers to the administration.

“We want to get those answers, and it may be that we have to compel those answers,” Schiff said.

Other members are focused on a different set of answers related to the Jan. 6 attack.

For instance, Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Louie Gohmert of Texas and Paul Gosar of Arizona will hold a 1 p.m. news conference outside the Justice Department on Tuesday “demanding answers on treatment of January 6 prisoners,” according to a release.