WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Four police officers who worked to defend the U.S. Capitol from a mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters are due to testify Tuesday at the first hearing before a congressional committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 riot.
The House of Representatives Committee was formed after Senate Republicans blocked the creation of an independent commission to investigate the attack. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, named the committee’s members.
Police were overwhelmed when hundreds of Trump supporters intent upon stopping Congress from formally certifying now-President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory stormed the Capitol, smashing windows, fighting with officers and sending lawmakers and then-Vice President Mike Pence scrambling for safety.
Four people died on the day of the violence, including one rioter fatally shot by police and three others who died of natural causes. A Capitol police officer who had been attacked by protesters died the following day.
The police officers who are scheduled to testify endured some of the worst of the brutality.
Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell, officers with the U.S. Capitol police, and Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges, officers with the District of Columbia police, are scheduled as the panel’s first witnesses.
In previous interviews, Dunn has said that attackers yelled racial slurs and fought him in what resembled hand-to-hand combat as he held them back. Gonell, an Iraq veteran, detailed surgery on his foot and injuries from which he struggled to recover. Fanone has described being dragged down the Capitol steps by rioters who shocked him with a stun gun and beat him. Hodges was beaten and crushed between two doors, and his bloody face and anguished screams were caught on video.
More than 535 people face charges arising from the riot including four charged in the attack on Fanone.
“We’re going to tell this story from the beginning,” said Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat who sits on the new House panel that is investigating the attack. “The moral center of gravity is these officers who put their lives on the line for us.”
The panel’s first hearing comes as partisan tensions have only worsened since the insurrection, with most House Republicans fiercely opposed the creation of the committee, saying it is politically motivated by Democrats.
Democrats now want to launch the probe — and win public support for it — by reminding people how brutal it was, and how the law enforcement officers who were sworn to protect the Capitol suffered grave injuries at the hands of the rioters.
Pelosi last week rejected two of five Republicans chosen by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy for the panel amid concerns they would undermine the committee’s integrity, leading McCarthy to withdraw the three remaining Republicans names.
The committee will be headed by Democrat Bennie Thompson and will include two Republicans – Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, both of whom have denounced Trump’s false statements about the election and voted with the Democrats in January to impeach him. Monday evening, the House voted against a resolution offered by the GOP leader to force the members to sit on the panel.
McCarthy has stayed close to Trump since the insurrection and has threatened to pull committee assignments from any Republican who participates on the Jan. 6 panel. On Monday, he called Cheney and Kinzinger, “Pelosi Republicans,” an effort that Cheney immediately called “childish.”
Cheney, who was stripped of her position in the House Republican leadership over her criticism of Trump, is expected to give one of the two opening statements on Tuesday.
“What we really want to try to communicate during the hearing is what it was like to be on the front lines for these brave police officers,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, another member of the panel. “How vastly outnumbered they were, how well militarized the members of the crowd were.”
On Tuesday, a group of GOP members plans to hold a news conference about the insurrectionists who were arrested, calling them “prisoners.”
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.