I am watching the hearing into the events of January 6, 2021. I don’t have cable; I am watching it being streamed, because none of the broadcast tv stations in the area (Upstate NY around Albany) are carrying it, not even the local PBS station. My local NPR radio station, WAMC, is carrying it at least. You can hear the testimony over the air, and see it streamed on their website.
Updated July 27, 2021 at 12:07 PM ET
The select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol is holding its first meeting Tuesday. Four police officers are giving testimony about the physical and verbal assaults they faced responding to the riot that day.
The four officers — Pfc. Harry Dunn and Sgt. Aquilino Gonell of the U.S. Capitol Police, and Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department — each gave opening statements and are answering questions from committee members.
Gonell recounted the events of that day and the impact it has had on law enforcement officers: “For most people, Jan. 6 happened for a few hours,” he said. “But for those of us who were in the thick of it, it has not ended.”
[Toro Blanco live-blogged the hearing, for those who missed it.]
I missed the opening statements; I just found a link a little while ago via The Washington Post. I had been looking for something, anything on the local TV channels earlier. The only one that had anything was France 24, an English language broadcast on one of the local digital channels, which had a story about it with some analysis. The commenter said something that struck me: this was the first time the U.S. did NOT have “a peaceful transfer of power.”
The atmosphere in the hearing room is grim. Faces were sober; no one was looking away or distracted. The testimony was riveting; the use of video clips was strategic and horrifying. Thank God Pelosi rejected two of McCarthy’s sedition caucus clowns — and that he pulled all of them in reaction. They would have done their best to turn this into a circus. Instead, the hearing has begun with incredible gravitas.
Starting testimony with the four police officers has been a powerful choice that puts some very painful facts on display. They are calling for the hearing to get to the bottom of all this. The words domestic terrorism and fascism have been used — appropriately IMHO. One officer refers to how the two Republicans on the committee are being lauded for their courage — and asks why telling the truth should be hard?
The police put their lives on the line to defend Congress. They were violently attacked, but they held. They were called traitors and worse. They were beaten and threatened with death. They are now calling on Congress to do what they can’t — get to the bottom of this, give them what they need to keep the Capitol safe, and hold people accountable so this does not happen again.
I can see why the press doesn’t want to touch this. Much of the video is too violent for casual viewing and the language is rough. The police are not holding back on what they experienced, what they felt — and who they think is responsible. There is no way to “both sides” this story — although as Eric Boehlert observes, that is what the press seems determined to do.
Tasked with determining how the insurrection was planned, why it unfolded, and who was to blame, the investigation will likely detail how Trump and Republicans eagerly fueled the deadly day.
But the press is doing its best to portray the investigation as a partisan event, featuring sniping from Both Sides. (A feud!) “Jan. 6 Select Committee to Open Investigation Amid Political Chaos and Controversy,” read a Washington Post headline on Sunday, insisting a “cloud” hung over the proceedings.
“What terrible, inaccurate framing,” tweeted Cornell University professor of American history Larry Glickman. “The story is not the supposed “cloud” but that the GOP has done everything possible to stonewall an investigation. Stop obfuscating GOP responsibility.”
So many media players will not accept the obvious fact that most Republicans don’t want a faithful accounting of the insurrection and Trump’s role in it. Republicans aren’t using smoke and mirrors to disguise their true intentions either. As usual, they’re being upfront in pushing their un-democratic agenda.
Testimony has wrapped for the day. The Washington Post people covering their live stream are trying to wrap their minds around what they have heard and seen. They seem stunned.
I shudder to think how the Republicans and right wing media are going to try to counterattack, the lies they will use, the character assassination they will resort to, the way they will attempt to discredit the whole process. They do it all the time, but they will turn it up to 11. You can see why they did everything they could to stop this.
They are already trying to ostracize their own, Cheney and Kinzinger, for choosing to sit on the committee. The Washington Post commenters observed that letting them start the questioning was wise. Here’s a list of the full special committee membership, via NPR.
Adam Kinzinger has a commentary in The NY Times: I’m on the Jan. 6 Committee. Here Are the Questions I Want Answered.
…How did this happen? Why? Who spurred this effort? Was it organized? When did our government leaders know of the impending attacks and what were their responses? What level of preparation or warnings did our law enforcement have? Was there coordination between the rioters and any members of Congress, or with staff?
We need answers and we need accountability, and the only way to get that is a full investigation and understanding of what happened to ensure nothing like this ever happens again. Such an investigation should include a serious look at the misinformation campaigns and their origins, the lies being perpetuated by leaders — including by former President Donald Trump — and what impact such false narratives had on the events leading up to and following Jan. 6. We need to be fearless about understanding the motivations of our fellow Americans, even if it makes us uncomfortable about the truth of who they are and the truth of who played what role in inspiring them….
It is a real indictment and de facto confession of guilt that the party of Trump does not want those questions asked, or answered.
The NY Times has a compendium of the events of January 6. It’s a map of the territory the hearings will be covering.
To get back to the original thrust of this post, it will be interesting to see how the press responds to the hearing today. There is no shortage of compelling sound bites from today — how many will make the evening news? How much airtime will the GOP get to ‘fair and balance” the story? Will any of the networks do a special report? What will the print media and the pundit class decide the story is?
However the rest of the hearing goes, the opening round was almost overwhelming — and it should be considering the subject. We had a serious attempt to overturn the election, and the people behind it are still out there.
The testimony today was overwhelming. It was emotionally gripping. It was a look at the dark tide that threatens are country, a “gaze into the abyss.” Will the events of January 6 be the high water mark of the insurrection? Will these hearings help turn it back — or will it continue to gather and surge?
The crisis isn’t over by a long shot.
UPDATE: The NY Times has a write up of some of the officers testimony as part of their coverage of the hearing.
In excruciating detail, four police officers who defended the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot told Congress on Tuesday of the brutal violence, racism and hostility they suffered as an angry mob they said acted in the name of President Donald J. Trump beat, crushed and electrocuted them as they labored to protect Congress.
One officer described how rioters attempted to gouge out his eye and called him a traitor as they sought to invade the Capitol. Another told of being smashed in a doorway and nearly crushed as he heard guttural screams of pain around him from fellow officers. A third said he was beaten unconscious and struck repeatedly with a Taser as he pleaded with the mob, “I have kids.” A fourth relayed how he was called a racist slur over and over again.
“All of them — all of them were telling us ‘Trump sent us,’” Aquilino A. Gonell, a Capitol Police sergeant, testified to the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol during its first hearing.
More than six months after the assault, the testimony by uniformed officers provided a set of gripping first-person narratives that brought home the harrowing events of Jan. 6, when Mr. Trump’s supporters, urged on by his lie of a stolen election, stormed the Capitol to disrupt the official counting of electoral votes to formalize President Biden’s victory.
UPDATE: Josh Kovensky at Talking Points Memo has five takeaways from the hearing today. To wit:
- The officers want Trump held accountable.
- The officers were bitter that GOPers in Congress betrayed them.
- The attack’s racial element came to the fore.
- Officers didn’t use their firearms because they thought they would lose in a gunfight.
- The bombs succeeded in scrambling the response.
More detail on each point at the link to TPM.
UPDATE: Well Well Well. From TPM:
Gohmert, Gaetz, Greene Rushed Out Of Their Jan 6 Side Show By Protesters
Just as the House select committee on Jan. 6 wrapped up its first hearing Thursday, a handful of Trump’s greatest Big Lie adherents attempted to hold a press conference outside the DOJ to call out the treatment of jailed insurrectionists, whom they deem “political prisoners.”
It didn’t last long.
The press conference featured Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Bob Good (R-VA) — most of Trump’s closest election overturning allies. It was seemingly designed to distract from the Jan. 6 committee hearing, but also to urge the attorney general to address the jailing of those who have been charged with crimes for the insurrection. The group sent a letter requesting to meet with Attorney General Merrick Garland last week to discuss the status of these so-called “political prisoners.”
But the publicity stunt appeared doomed from the start as an unidentified person in the crowd repeatedly blew a whistle as the GOP lawmakers took the podium. Protesters continued holding signs and making noise throughout the briefing, but the four-some attempted to carry on.
They couldn’t, so they fled.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.