Jan. 6 select committee to push forward with subpoenas

Officers testifying ask for answers on which public officials were involved

Chairman Bennie Thompson addresses the media after the House Jan. 6 select committee hearing in Cannon Building on Tuesday. Also appearing from left are, Reps. Adam Schiff, Liz Cheney, Jamie Raskin, Zoe Lofgren, Pete Aguilar, and Adam Kinzinger. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Chairman Bennie Thompson addresses the media after the House Jan. 6 select committee hearing in Cannon Building on Tuesday. Also appearing from left are, Reps. Adam Schiff, Liz Cheney, Jamie Raskin, Zoe Lofgren, Pete Aguilar, and Adam Kinzinger. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted July 27, 2021 at 5:23pm

After hearing hours of gripping testimony from four police officers who endured grave physical and emotional wounds during the Capitol attack, the Jan. 6 select committee members will have time to digest those accounts before the next hearing, which could happen at some point in August.

“It sets the right tone for the work of this committee,” Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said of the four officers’ stories. “But it also says that there is significant work that we have to do over the next few months.”

It’s unclear what the exact focus of the panel will be in the second hearing, but when Thompson asked the officers what they need to see from this inquiry, they relayed that they wanted to know what role elected officials had in it.

“I need you guys to address if anyone in power had a role in this,” Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges said.

That scope will include what role former President Donald Trump and his administration may have played in the events of Jan. 6. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said, “Obviously, the events of that day at the White House are a focus.” 

Thompson said the committee plans to obtain materials that were compiled as part of the second impeachment of Trump, which took place days after the insurrection. 

“Yes,” Thompson said. “We plan to get it, yeah.”

Thompson also said the panel plans to speak with Attorney General Merrick B. Garland regarding ground rules for accessing relevant information from the ongoing criminal prosecutions. 

“We plan to eventually have a conversation with the attorney general about some of the ground rules for that. We think it’s important that the committee have any and all access to that information and some information as it relates to some of the prosecutions that are ongoing — without interrupting it,” Thompson said. “But we think there should be information that they’ve been able to uncover that our committee can have access to.”

Additionally, Thompson said he expects the first wave of subpoenas to come out “soon.”

Officer Harry Dunn and Sgt. Aquilino Gonell of the Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police Department Officers Michael Fanone and Hodges, all of whom fought to defend the Capitol and evade death that day, recounted the toll it took on them, testimony that made an impression on the members.

“All of the officers spoke with tremendous eloquence and passion about their experiences of the day, but what struck me so much was their understanding that it was not just defending themselves and fellow officers, but democracy itself,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif. “They really got that.”

Before the select panel’s first hearing, GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy held a news conference with his five picks for the committee — picks he rescinded after Speaker Pelosi blocked two of them: Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Jim Banks, R-Ind.

McCarthy criticized Pelosi for lapses in Capitol security on Jan. 6. The speaker is the most powerful position in the legislative branch, and when Pelosi called for the resignation of former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund after the events of Jan. 6, he resigned.

The House Administration Committee and the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee both have oversight over the Capitol Police in the House. In the Senate, it is the Senate Rules and Administration Committee and the Senate Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee. The Capitol Police Board also oversees the Capitol Police and security on the campus. It has three voting members: the architect of the Capitol, the Senate sergeant-at-arms and the House sergeant-at-arms.

At the time of the insurrection, Michael Stenger was the Senate sergeant-at-arms (appointed by former Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) and Paul D. Irving was the House sergeant-at-arms (chosen by former Speaker John A. Boehner). Architect of the Capitol J. Brett Blanton, who has kept his role, was nominated by Trump.

One of McCarthy's picks for the select panel, Rodney Davis, R-Ill., is the ranking member of the House Administration Committee.

When Davis was asked to comment on how Republicans selected the entire Capitol Police Board leading up to and on Jan. 6, he deflected.

“C’mon. My friend Lee Brice likes to say, ‘Don’t outsmart your common sense,’ and that question outsmarted your common sense,” Davis said, invoking the country musician.

McCarthy also said Lofgren, the chairperson of the House Administration Committee, was not physically present in D.C.

“You had a chairman of that committee that had not been to Washington since May,” McCarthy said.

Lofgren hit back when asked to respond.

“It’s just bizarre deflection from insurrectionists who tried to overthrow the government,” Lofgren said when asked about McCarthy assigning blame to her committee and Pelosi on Capitol security. “We have outlined, in public, deficiencies in the management of the police department, which are important. But those deficiencies didn’t cause a mob of thousands of people who attacked the Capitol. That’s absurd.”