Gonell, who was beaten with a flagpole during the melee and had his foot seriously damaged while also sustaining shoulder injuries, was asked at Tuesday’s hearing by the select committee investigating the riot about Trump’s comment.
Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming – one of two Republicans serving on the panel after a spat between Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, asked the battered police officer about the former president’s language.
Cheney has become a Trump nemesis since her vote to impeach him after the riot.
U.S. Capitol Police Officer Aquilino Gonell was asked at Tuesday’s select committee hearing about President Trump referring to those who marched to the Capitol Jan. 6 as a ‘loving crowd’
‘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 him.
Trump had made the comment in a new book, I Alone Can Fix It.
‘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, that he claimed that so many rioters, terrorists who were assullting us that day. ‘If that was hugs and kisses, we should all go to his house and do the same thing to him,’ he continued.
‘To me, it’s insulting, it’s demoralizing, because everything that we did was to prevent everyone in the Capitol from getting hurt.’
Continuing to go at Trump, Gonell, who served in Iraq before joining the Capitol Police, said: ‘What he was doing, instead of sending the military, instead of sending the support or telling his people – his supporters – to stop this nonsense, he egged them to continue fighting.’
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) questioned the officer about Trump’s comment. Trump has repeatedly gone after her after she voted for the second Trump impeachment after the riot
Trump referred to the ‘loving crowd’ in comments recorded for the new book, ‘I Alone Can Fix It’
President Donald Trump shortly before his supporters breached the Capitol on Jan. 6th
Gonell, who immigrated from the Dominican Republic, also testified that he received racial slurs from the crowd.
He called the rioters ‘vicious and relentless.’
He also tore into the narrative floated by some Trump backers that the riot was a false flag operation rather than being perpetrated by thousands who adorned themselves in pro-Trump gear.
He was on the lower west terrorist. ‘All of them told us: Trump sent us,’ he said.
‘It was not Antifa, it was not Black Lives Matter, it was not the FBI. It was his supporters that he sent over to the Capitol that day,’ he said of Trump. ‘He could have done a lot of things. One is to tell them to stop.’
‘He talks about sacrificing, sacrifices. The only thing he has sacrificed is the institutions of the country and the country only for his ego … because he wants the job, but he doesn’t want to do the job. That’s a shame on himself.’
During later questioning, he described injuries sustained to his foot – and an image of his battered foot was shown as evidence of the violence he sustained after someone in the crowd through a loudspeaker in his direction.
A photo of U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell’s foot is displayed as Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., asks questions about injuries sustained by police officers during the riot, during the House select committee hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Capitol cops and DC Metropolitan Police officers called rioters ‘terrorists’, attacked Republicans who have downplayed January 6 and recalled the ‘medieval battle’ they faced during the first hearing of the select committee on Tuesday.
Officers Harry Dunn, Aquilino Gonell, Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges gave harrowing testimony to the panel of seven Democrats and two Republicans – Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger – describing how they feared the rioters would kill them and criticized the treatment of their colleagues.
They also told the panel how they were confronted by people waving MAGA flags, Trump supporters saying President Biden didn’t win the election, and others racially abusing them.
Dunn said he was called the n-word more than a dozen times and one rioter said: ‘This n***er voted for Biden.’
Officer Hodges said: ‘To my perpetual confusion, I saw the thin blue line flag, the symbol of support for law enforcement, more than once being carried by the terrorists as they ignored our demands and continued to assault us.’
In his testimony, Gonell recounted how the ‘rioters call me traitor.’
(From left to right) Officers Aquilino Gonell, Michael Fanone, Daniel Hodges and Harry Dunn gave emotional testimony to the panel of seven Democrats and two Republicans – Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger – describing how they feared the rioters would kill them and criticized the treatment of their colleagues
In his testimony, Gonell recounted how the ‘rioters call me traitor.’ ‘The rioters were vicious and relentless. We found ourselves in a violent battle,’ he said of that day.
GOP Rep Adam Kinzinger hugs Gonnell before the start of the hearing
‘The rioters were vicious and relentless. We found ourselves in a violent battle,’ he said of that day.
He described his experience ‘like something from a medieval battle. We fought hand to hand, inch by inch, to prevent an invasion of the Capitol by the mob intend on subverting our democracy.’
Most of the officers grew emotional watching the footage from January 6th. At one point, Fanone got up to offer comfort to Gonell.
Fanone, who suffered a heart attack from his injuries on January 6th, recounted how he was repeatedly tasered and threatened with his own gun by the rioters.
‘I was aware enough to recognize I was at risk of being stripped of and killed with my own firearm. I was electrocuted, again and again and again with a taser,’ he said.
He recounted how he and his fellow officers held the line in one of the underground tunnels that lead from the Capitol to the lawmakers’ personal office buildings, holding back the mob so they could not break through.
Dunn said he was called the n-word more than a dozen times and one rioter said: ‘This n***er voted for Biden’
‘The narrowness of the hallway provided what was probably the only chance of holding back the crowd from entering your personal offices, the House and Senate chambers,’ he said.
He became visibly emotional, saying ‘what makes the struggle harder and more painful’ is seeing lawmakers ‘downplaying or outright denying what happened,’ even after he ‘went to hell and back’ for them.
Fanone, who suffered a heart attack from his injuries on January 6th, recounted how he was repeatedly tasered and threatened with his own gun by the rioters
‘Being an officer, you know your life is a risk whenever you walk out the door. Even if you don’t expect otherwise law abiding citizens take up arms against you. But nothing – truly nothing – prepared me to address those elected members of our government, who continue to deny the events of that day. And in doing so, betray their oath of office,’ Fanone said.
‘The indifference, shown to my colleagues is disgraceful,’ he said, banging on the table.
Fanone recounted how some in the crowd helped him, when he worried he would die and told them about his daughters.
‘I thought about using my firearm on my attackers, but I knew that if I did, I would be quickly overwhelmed in that in their minds would provide them with the justification for killing me,’ he said.
‘So I instead decided to appeal to the any humanity they might have. I said as loud as I could manage: I’ve got kids. Thankfully, some in the crowd stepped in and assisted me. Those few individuals protected me from a crowd and injure me toward the Capitol, until my fellow officers could rescue me,’ he said.
The committee began its hearing with dramatic new footage that day, showing Trump’s supporters over running the building and attacking police officers.
Officer Hodges (center) said: ‘To my perpetual confusion, I saw the thin blue ling flag, the symbol of support for law enforcement, more than once being carried by the terrorists as they ignored our demands and continued to assault us’
Kinzinger wipes his face while listening to the testimony from the four cops
Filled with shouting obscenities, the video showed the rioters throwing objects and gas canisters at police officers, screaming and shouting as they broke the Capitol’s windows to breach the building.
On the video, police officers are heard on the radio, begging for help as the rioters overwhelmed them.
‘Can I speak to Pelosi? We’re coming b***h,’ one rioter is seen saying of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
‘Hang Mike Pence,’ the crowd is heard shouting about the then-vice president.
The footage was shown to emphasize Democrats’ point that the rioters were trying over throw the government.
‘A peaceful transfer of power did not happen this year. It did not happen. Let that sink in. Think about it. A violent mob was pointed at the Capitol and told to win a trial by combat,’ Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chair of the panel, said in his opening statement.
‘These rioters were organized, they were ready for fight, and they came close to succeeding. It’s frightening to think about how close,’ he added.