“I too was crushed by the rioters. I felt that I was out of air and thought: this is how I‘m going to die.” An emotional testimony from US police officer Aquilino Gonell today. On January 6, he tried to defend the entrance to the Washington D.C. Capitol, while a crowd of supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the building.
Gonell and three other agents are the first to be heard by the parliamentary committee to investigate the storming. The hearings should give more insight into how things could go so wrong that day.
But because of political divisions in the United States, it’s only the question of whether the results will have consequences, says correspondent Marieke de Vries. “Some Republicans try to maintain that nothing was going on that day.”
Thanks to the many filming recordings, a lot has already been known about what happened on January 6th. It was the day the U.S. Congress officially recorded Joe Biden‘s election profit. Trump held a White House meeting for his supporters at the same time. The president whipped the public with allegations about stolen elections.
A large crowd did indeed set course towards the Congress building, the Capitol, and penetrated it without much effort. Congressmen experienced anxious moments. They had to hide from the pack and were eventually brought to safety through subterranean corridors.
Dozens of people were injured that day. Five people died, including a cop.
The hearing started by showing footage of the storming. Agents then emotionally told their story:
Yet Republicans and Democrats disagree on the investigation into storming. Initially, both sides wanted to set up a commission similar to the committee investigating the 9/11 attacks. But in the end, the Republicans did not want to cooperate in such a large investigation.
“Since the storming, Republicans are predominantly choosing Trump’s side and direction,” says De Vries. “Trump says nothing went wrong and he certainly didn‘t turn it on.”
“Research May Harm Republicans”
The Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, decided to set up a committee on his own. That’s mostly Democratic members in it. “The Republicans came up with candidates, two of whom were so biased that Pelosi refused them,” says De Vries. The two remaining Republicans on the committee are well known critics of Trump who hold him partly responsible for the violence of January 6.
She and the Democrats blame Trump for urging his supporters to storm the Capitol, to use violence and go after Vice President Mike Pence. According to Trump, Pence did too little to prevent the ratification of Biden‘s victory.
Most Republicans do the investigation as a political game of Democrats to drive Republican voters away from their party. But in addition, many Republican Congressmen fear that the investigation can really harm them, says De Vries. “Because there are also going to be difficult questions about who kept Trump informed about the situation from Congress and the National Guard, which would have been deployed too late.”
Some of the Republicans even claim that the events of January 6 are greatly exaggerated. De Vries: “Who say the stormers were tourists, Trump supporters who just got a little excited and walked in.”
They don’t say that for nothing. “Republican Congressmen know that much of their supporters still support Trump,” De Vries said. “They don‘t want to lose those supporters for next year’s mid-term elections and they certainly don‘t want to lose the support of Trump himself. That’s why they stay true to Trump‘s line that nothing happened that day.”
why those Republicans say it‘s time to move on. “Don’t look back but look ahead. They are talking about the country being in much bigger trouble right now and that it should be about that.”