Commentary

Capitol Cops saved America from violent political spasm

Posted

INDIANAPOLIS — One thing that stood out after the Capitol and D.C. Metro police testimony Tuesday before the fledgling House Jan. 6 Select Committee was how close this “insurrection” came to being an atrocity that could have ignited a violent nationwide spasm.

D.C. Officer Daniel Hodges, who repeatedly referred to those breaching the U.S. Capitol as “terrorists,” was asked why police didn’t use their guns to stop the mayhem. There were “thousands of terrorists … only hundreds of us,” Hodges said. “If it had turned into a firefight, we would’ve lost.”

That was a chilling revelation.

There were five deaths on Jan. 6, including two supporters of President Trump and three Capitol officers who died (two by suicide in its aftermath). There had been only one shot fired, by an unidentified Capitol defender, killing Ashli Babbitt of California as she attempted to jump through an interior Capitol window. Trump has elevated her death to martyrdom.

It would be difficult to gauge how a gunfight in the halls and steps to the Capitol could have been a total rupture of the civic dynamic, supplanting the Boston Massacre or Kent State as historic political violence mileposts, potentially sending thousands of Trump supporters and opponents into the streets of American cities.

For that restraint alone, the cops defending the Capitol should have a revered place in our history.

Officer Hodges’ testimony mentioned “terrorists” 15 times and he was pressed by U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin as to why. Hodges cited U.S. criminal code: “U.S. Code title 18 part 1 chapter 1.1.3, B as in brown, section 2.3.3.1. The term domestic terrorism means activities that involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any state and B, appeared to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, or to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping and occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.”

Beginning with a March 26 Fox interview with Laura Ingraham and repeated to Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig for their book “I Alone Can Fix It,” Trump described the insurrectionists this way: “Right from the start, it was zero threat. Look, they went in — they shouldn’t have done it — some of them went in, and they’re hugging and kissing the police and the guards, you know? They had great relationships.”

Asked about former President Trump’s assertion that rioters were “hugging and kissing” Capitol Police officers, Sgt. Aquilino Gonell replied, “I’m still recovering from those hugs and kisses that day. Hearing the former president call Jan. 6 a ‘love-fest’ is upsetting, it’s a pathetic excuse for his behavior for something that he himself helped to create, this monstrosity.”

For nearly three hours, the four officers described “medieval” hand-to-hand combat with the insurrectionists.

Metro Officer Michael Fanone: “I was at risk of being stripped of and killed with my own firearm. I heard chants of ‘kill him with his own gun.’ My fellow officers and I were punched, pushed, kicked, shoved, sprayed with chemical irritants and even blinded by eye-damaging lasers by a violent mob.”

Officer Fanone called out congressional deniers of the insurrection: “The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful,” he said, pounding the table, his voice rising.

Officer Gonell: “To be honest, I did not recognize my fellow citizens who stormed the Capitol on January 6, or the United States that they claimed to represent. It was an attempted coup. If it had been another country, the United States would have sent help.”

Last week, U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, was poised to join the panel after being appointed as one of five Republicans by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yanked Banks and U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan off the committee in an unprecedented action.

After the hearing concluded, he was interviewed by Fox News anchor Bret Baier, who noted, “The testimony was damning, to see the video again today was jarring. You cannot watch this testimony and say this is not a big deal.”

“Let me first say these were tragic stories on a tragic day on Jan. 6,” Banks said. “These stories the officers tell should never have happened. I heard Officer Harry Dunn say something that is most notable in this entire hearing in that they were not prepared for what happened that day.

“If I had been able to be in that room and do my duty as the ranking member, I would have asked the question that neither Republicans and Democrats asked which would be to unpack that statement: Why weren’t they prepared on Jan. 6 when there was intelligence three weeks before that told us something dangerous was going to happen that day?” Banks continued. “Every word that comes out of every mouth on this committee has been strategically supplied by Nancy Pelosi for her narrative.”

As Banks articulated on Fox News, House Republicans seem to be saying: Ignore that man behind the curtain (i.e. Trump) and his exhortation for supporters to help stage his coup; it’s Speaker Pelosi’s fault that the Capitol was so vulnerable. 

The columnist is publisher of Howey Politics Indiana at www.howeypolitics.com. Find Howey on Facebook and Twitter @hwypol.

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here