(WASHINGTON) — Despite Republican opposition, the House select committee tasked with investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol holds its first hearing.
The panel will hear from law enforcement officers who defended the building, including Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn and Metropolitan Police Department officer Michael Fanone. They both lobbied lawmakers in May, alongside the family of fallen Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, to form a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate the attack — an effort Republicans blocked in the Senate.
The House voted to form the select committee to which Speaker Nancy Pelosi has appointed eight members — six Democrats and two Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who broke from the GOP to vote in favor of creating the panel.
Here is how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Jul 27, 11:14 am
Officer tells of racial abuse from rioters
Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn recalled the racist verbal abuse he endured from rioters on Jan. 6 and, in emotional testimony, said it was the first time he had been called a racial slur in uniform.
“I’m a law enforcement officer and I do my best to keep politics out of my job, but in this circumstance I responded, well, I voted for Joe Biden, does my vote not count? Am I nobody?"” he said he said to rioters who falsely called the election stolen.
“That prompted a torrent of racial epithets,” Dunn continued.
“I sat down on the bench in the rotunda with a friend of mine, who is also a Black capitol police officer and told him about the racial slurs I endured. I became very emotional and began yelling, ‘How the blank could something like this happen? Is this America?"” he said. “I began sobbing.”
Dunn said that in the days following the attempted insurrection, other Black officers shared similar stories of racial abuse.
Jul 27, 11:09 am
Officer recalls rioter telling him: ‘You will die on your knees’
Metropolitan Police Department officer Daniel Hodges, who was crushed in a doorway on Jan. 6, recalled how he had to wrestle with one rioter who tried to take his baton and another shouted at him, “‘You will die on your knees."”
Hodges, as Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn has before, called the rioters “terrorists” throughout his testimony.
“The terrorists alternated between attempting to go break our defense and shouting at or attempting to convert us,” he said.
He recounted in detail how rioters beat him while he was trapped in a doorway.
“Directly in front of me, a man seized the opportunity of my vulnerability, grabbed the front of my gas mask and used it to beat my head against the door,” he said. “He never uttered any words but opted instead for guttural screams. I remember him foaming at the mouth.”
Jul 27, 10:54 am
Officer recalls mob chanting ‘kill him with his own gun’
In powerful testimony, Metropolitan Police Department officer Michael Fanone, who was dragged down the Capitol steps, beaten with a flagpole and tased repeatedly on Jan. 6, recalled how rioters chanted, “kill him with his own gun” as he was being beaten and lying on the ground.
“I said as loud as I could manage ‘I’ve got kids,"” he testified.
Fanone didn’t hold back when calling out lawmakers who have blocked efforts for an investigation, slamming his fist on the witness table when he said, “The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful.”
“I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room, but too many are now telling me that hell doesn’t exist or that hell actually wasn’t that bad,” he said.
“Nothing, truly nothing, has prepared me to address those elected members of our government who continue to deny the events of that day, and in doing so betray their oath of office,” he added.
Jul 27, 10:23 am
Officer recalls how he thought he would die
Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell was the first to speak of the four officers and described the day as a scene “from a medieval battlefield.”
“I could feel myself losing oxygen and recall thinking to myself ‘this is how I’m going to die, trampled defending this entrance,"” he said in an emotional testimony.
Gonell described the verbal and physical attacks as horrific and devastating and recalled some of the language used that the officers say still haunt them.
“‘If you shoot us, we all have weapons, and we will shoot back,” or ‘we will get our guns.’ ‘We outnumber you, join us,’ they said. I also heard specific threats on the lives of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then-Vice President Mike Pence,” he recalled.
Earlier, when video of the Capitol attack played, the four uniformed witnesses fidgeted in their seats, and Gonell appeared to tear up, wiping his eyes. At one point, Metropolitan Police Department officer Michael Fanone leaned over and whispered something in his ear, clasping his shoulder.
Jul 27, 10:05 am
Cheney reminds ‘our children are watching’ in opening statement
In her opening statement, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said the panel’s first choice was to have an independent, bipartisan commission not made up of lawmakers to investigate the attack — but that effort was killed by Republican leadership.
“That leaves us where we are today. We cannot leave the violence of Jan. 6 and its causes uninvestigated,” she said. “If those responsible are not held accountable, and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our constitutional republic.”
Cheney also reminded that Republicans had “recognized the events that day for what they actually were” in the days after the attack, even if members downplay it now, but said the committee’s work is just beginning.
“We must issue and enforce subpoenas promptly,” she said. “We must overcome the many efforts we are already seeing to cover up and obscure the facts.”
She then called out to every member of Congress to ask themselves: “Will we adhere to the rule of law, respect the rulings of our courts, and preserve the peaceful transition of power? Or will we be so blinded by partisanship that we throw away the miracle of America? Do we hate our political adversaries more than we love our country and revere our Constitution?”
She added, “I pray that we all remember, our children are watching, as we carry out the solemn and sacred duty entrusted to us. They will know who stood for truth. They will inherit the nation we hand to them — a republic, if we can keep it.”
Jul 27, 9:53 am
Chairman: ‘This threat hasn’t gone away’
At the end of a video with never-before-seen footage of the attack, one rioter said they’ll be back, which Thompson said was a warning that “this threat hasn’t gone away” but “looms over our democracy like a dark cloud.”
Thompson closed his opening statement by saying while the attack was fueled by a “vile, vile lie,” his committee will be a beacon for uncovering the truth of that day.
“The rioters who tried to rob us of our democracy were propelled here by a lie. As Chairman of this Committee, I will not give that lie any fertile ground,” he said.
“We cannot allow ourselves to be undone by liars and cheaters. This is the United States of America,” he added.
Jul 27, 9:50 am
Chairman opens hearing with praise for officers, new video
Opening the hearing, Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said there’s “no place for politics or partisanship” in their investigation and praised the police officers for testifying for the panel.
“For appearing here, and more importantly, for your heroism on Jan. 6, you have the gratitude of this committee and this country. You held the line that day, and I can’t overstate what was on the line: our democracy. You held the line,” he said.
“We’re going to revisit some of those moments today, and it won’t be easy,” Thompson added. “But history will remember your names and your actions.”
Thompson proceeded to play video from Jan. 6 showing the officers defending the Capitol from a violent, pro-Trump mob, intermixed with their pleas to each other over their radios.
“Just describing that attack doesn’t come close to capturing what actually took place that day, so we’re going to see some of what our witnesses saw on Jan. 6,” he said.
Jul 27, 9:37 am
Hearing gets underway
The House select committee’s first hearing is underway.
Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., will each deliver opening statements ahead of testimony from four police officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Cheney will speak in place of Republicans, whose ranking member would typically be given an opportunity to make opening remarks after the committee chair — but House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy pulled his members from the panel, leaving only Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who took appointments from Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Tuesday’s hearing is expected to go two to three hours and will feature new video elements from the attack.
Jul 27, 9:35 am
Chairman: Subpoenas for Trump, Ivanka, McCarthy possible
Ahead of the hearing, Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., left the door open to subpoenas for the former president and those close to him on Jan. 6.
“Wherever the investigation leads us,” Thompson told ABC News Correspondent Kyra Phillips, when asked also about subpoenas for the House GOP leader and Ivanka Trump. “We will look at who made phone calls to the White House that day, we’ll look at whether or not there were any text messages, where there any emails — all of that is part of the investigation.”
Thompson said the August recess for the committee will include a lot of work and include conversations with Attorney General Merrick Garland and the White House.
“We are looking for a cooperative investigation, so whatever it takes to get that cooperation we plan to do,” he said.
Jul 27, 9:26 am
Why did the committee start with police officers?
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the panel and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who briefed reporters on a call ahead of the hearing, said it was important to have the officers explain the brutality of what they confronted, with the help of video footage from that day.
Schiff said the officers can “put to rest some of the revisionist history, the effort to whitewash what took place and understand keenly the importance of getting to the truth about what led up to that insurrection and what happened thereafter.”
He added, “We didn’t want to compel anyone to testify that didn’t want to or didn’t feel that they could. A lot of those who were the most severely injured continue to struggle with the after-effects of that day, so we want to be sensitive to those concerns.”
Metropolitan Police officer Michael Fanone, who was seen on video getting brutally attacked by rioters, told ABC News Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott he plans to testify in uniform and won’t let politics surrounding the committee hinder the truth in his testimony.
Jul 27, 9:21 am
What to expect Tuesday
At Tuesday’s hearing, titled “The Law Enforcement Experience on January 6th,” the panel will hear from police officers who protected lawmakers from rioters during the assault on the Capitol and have them explain new video footage showing what they experienced that day.
Harrowing testimonies are expected from Capitol Police officers Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell and Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges of the Metropolitan Police Department.
Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., will each deliver opening statements ahead of testimony from the officers. The opening statements from police officers will each be roughly five minutes, though the committee won’t be enforcing the “5-minute rule” on members and witnesses as it typically does in major hearings. There will only be one round of questions.
The hearing is expected to go two to three hours and will feature new video elements from the attack, according to a congressional aide.
Jul 27, 8:53 am
Republicans blame Pelosi for alleged security lapse ahead of hearing
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, joined by other Republican leaders and the five GOP members he appointed to the committee, held a news conference at the Capitol about an hour before the first hearing was set to began to air grievances about Reps. Jim Banks and Jim Jordan being rejected by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The group attempted to place blame for Jan. 6 on Pelosi.
“The American people deserve to know the truth that Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility as speaker of the House for the tragedy that occurred on Jan. 6,” said Rep. Elise Stefanik, who replaced Cheney in her No. 3 GOP leadership role earlier this year.
One reporter noted that Pelosi didn’t say the election was stolen or call her supporters to the Capitol, asking McCarthy, “So are you trying to cover up what the former president’s role was on Jan. 6?”
“Nothing, we’re not pre-determining any questions. We’d like to be on the committee to ask them,” he replied, before resuming his attacks on Pelosi and the Democratic-led committee.
Jul 27, 8:30 am
Rep. Liz Cheney on ABC’s Good Morning America says subpoenas possible for McCarthy, Trump
With hours until the first hearing kicks off, Rep. Liz Cheney — one of two Republicans serving on the select committee — shot back at fellow Republicans criticizing her role in the probe, saying, “This is absolutely not a game. This is deadly serious.”
”There are some in my party, including Leader McCarthy, who continue to act as though this is about partisan politics, I think it’s really sad. I think it’s a disgrace,” she told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.
She also said subpoenas for House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and even former President Donald Trump are possible.
“The committee will go wherever we need to go to get to the facts,” she said.
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