A US Capitol Police officer has recounted the “monstrosity” he witnessed during the Jan. 6 protest by supporters of former US President Donald Trump as the GOP pins the blame on the top House Democrat.
During a select panel's first hearing, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney asked Officer Aquilino Gonell about what he thought about Trump’s comments on the protest, aimed at preventing lawmakers from certifying now-President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
“When you think about that and share with us the vivid memory of the cruelty and the violence of the assault that day and then you hear former President Trump say quote ‘It was a loving crowd. There was a lot of love in the crowd,’ how does that make you feel?” Cheney asked U.S. Capitol Police Officer Aquilino Gonell, who has previously described the day’s events like a medieval battle.
“It’s upsetting. It’s 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,” he said.
He was one of four officers who offered testimony about to the select committee formed to investigate what happened that day.
“To me it's insulting, it's demoralizing because everything that we did was to prevent everyone in the Capitol from getting hurt and what he was doing — instead of sending the military, instead of sending support or telling his people, his supporters, to stop this nonsense — he egged them to continue fighting,” said the Capitol Police officer in response to Cheney, one of the staunch supporters of the former president.
Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges, whose video of getting stuck in a doorway, also suggested that the former president should be held accountable for stoking violence on that day.
“I need you guys to address if anyone in power had a role in this. If anyone in power coordinated or aided or abetted or tried to downplay, tried to prevent the investigation of this terrorist attack. Because we can’t do it. We’re not allowed to,” he said.
House GOP leaders, meanwhile, pinned the blame on House Democratic speaker Nancy Pelosi for the deadly protest, in which some of the demonstrator stormed into the building, obliging authorities to deploy the National Guard to put an end to rioting.
"On Jan. 6 these brave officers were put into a vulnerable and impossible position because the leadership at the top failed," House minority leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters just outside the Capitol.
Republican Reps. Jim Jordan also tried to bring of the issue of security in order to avert attention from Trump’s role.
"Why don't they want to answer the fundamental question, which is why wasn't there a better security posture on that day?" Jordan asked.