• November 29, 2021

The Republican Party ignored the hearing on the attack on the Capitol

As surprising as the testimony of officials today is the refusal of Republican lawmakers to participate in it.

Andrew Harnik / Getty

Along the corridors of the Capitol complex today, members of the Capitol Police looked at their phones and nearby television screens. Four of his fellow officers were testifying before Congress for the first time about the treatment they had suffered on January 6. They described being beaten with metal antlers, sprayed in the eyes with wasp repellent and shocked with their own tasers. One of the men wept as he spoke; a colleague patted him on the back. Their hands shook as they took careful sips of water.

This morning’s testimony was the first time Americans heard such a vivid and harrowing account from the front lines of the attack: the officers’ mounting panic as crowds surrounded them, how the rioters called them “traitors” and threatened to kill them with your weapons. own weapons, the realization that they might die right there on the marble steps of the Capitol. But just as surprising as the officers ‘testimony is the Republican lawmakers’ refusal to participate. The Republican Party’s response has been to minimize or even mock what happened.

At the beginning of the hearing, the officers who testified watched as the chairman of the select committee, Bennie Thompson, played a compilation of images and police recordings that linked the events of the day: the frantic calls between the officers; the sinister sound of rioters pounding on the glass outside the east entrance to the Capitol; Officer Eugene Goodman urges Senator Mitt Romney to flee the mob. Within minutes of the video, the C-SPAN camera zoomed out to capture Officer Daniel Hodges looking at himself on screen, which showed him smashed against a door and struggling to breathe as a rioter removed his gas mask. As he watched, Hodges’s face was inscrutable, but his cheeks were flushed.

As Hodges prepared to relive what was perhaps the most traumatic day of his life, the Speaker of the Republican House conference, Elise Stefanik, was outside. organize a rival event– A press conference during which he blamed the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, for the January 6 violence. “It is a fact that the US Capitol Police voiced their concerns and instead of giving them the support and resources they deserved, prioritized their partisan political outlook over their safety,” said Stefanik. (Pelosi does not oversee the operations of the US Capitol Police.)

Stefanik’s was just one excuse among many. Shortly after January 6, Donald Trump’s allies Made a story accusing antifa of infiltrating the mafia and instigating the assault. In May, Republican Legislator Andrew Clyde of Georgia described the riot that threatened the lives of his colleagues as a “normal tourist visit”. This morning, a collaborator of the extreme right American greatness The magazine characterized the officers who testified as “crisis actors,” playing victims for liberal political purposes.

Republicans would like nothing more than to stop talking about this day. That’s why they voted to oust Representative Liz Cheney from Wyoming, a fierce critic of Trump, from his leadership position earlier this summer, and it’s why so many Republican lawmakers voted against establishing an independent committee. to investigate on January 6. First-year Republican Nancy Mace offered a neat summary of her party’s broader sentiments: “I want to get it over with,” she told me. “I want to keep going forward”.

But the Republican Party’s sweeping approach will be difficult to maintain. According to Cheney, the select committee plans to investigate “Every phone call, every conversation, every meeting before, during and after the attack,” which will keep the topic in the headlines for weeks or months to come. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s decision to remove his appointees from the committee after Pelosi refused to seat Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio and Jim Banks of Indiana appears to have been a mistake. of political calculation. Now the Republican Party has no one on the panel to counter or challenge the investigation. The only two Republicans on the panel are Pelosi’s named Trump critics – Cheney and Adam Kinzinger from Illinois – underscoring that there are still party members holding the former president and many of his colleagues responsible for the insurrection.

During the hearing, the officers took turns recounting the events of the day. Sergeant Aquilino Gonell said he had been more scared on January 6 than during his entire deployment to Iraq. Officer Harry Dunn said they called him the N word. Officer Michael Fanone recounted that he was dragged through the crowd of rioters, beaten, and beaten: “I’m sure I was screaming, but I don’t think I could hear my own voice.” . Hodges described how a man stuck his finger in his right eye and tried to remove it.

By late morning, they had finished making their statements and the question and answer portion of the panel was about to begin. Televisions throughout the Capitol complex blazed with audio coverage. A CNN reporter I ask Clyde, the Republican who described January 6 as a “normal tourist visit,” which he did with his testimony. “I haven’t heard anything yet today,” he replied.

With a report by Christian Paz

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