Four police officers who fought tooth and nail to defend the U.S. Capitol and suffered broken bones and racist taunts from Donald Trump's supporters on January 6 testified on Tuesday before a Congressional committee probing the attack.
Sergeant Aquilino Gonell of the U.S. Capitol Police vividly recalled battling the rioters:
"We fought hand-to-hand and inch-by-inch to prevent an invasion of the Capitol by a violent mob intent on subverting our democratic process."
Michael Fanone, with D.C.'s Metropolitan Police said he was assaulted and beaten unconscious by Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol:
"I was grabbed, beaten, tased, all while being called a traitor to my country."
The Congressional panel of seven Democrats and two Republicans played harrowing video from the officers’ body-worn cameras, underscoring their testimonies.
The mob besieged the Capitol after outgoing President Donald Trump gave an incendiary speech falsely claiming his 2020 election loss was the result of fraud.
The rioters were intent on stopping lawmakers from certifying the election results.
"Some wearing 'MAGA' hats, and shirts that said 'Trump 2020.' I told them to just leave the Capitol. And in response they yelled, 'no, man, this is our house. President Trump invited us here.'"
Their prejudices were plain to Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn. The following account contains racist and offensive language.
"One woman in a pink 'MAGA' shirt yelled, 'You hear that, guys, this nigger voted for Joe Biden!' Then the crowd, perhaps around twenty people, joined in, screaming 'Boo! Fucking nigger!' No one had ever – ever - called me a 'nigger' while wearing the uniform of a Capitol Police officer."
The rioters battled their way inside and forced lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence to flee.
The witnesses on Tuesday said the stakes were clear.
"What were you fighting for that day?"
Only two Republican lawmakers - Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois - joined the panel over the objections of their party leaders.
GOP leaders rejected a proposed bipartisan outside commission, and last week pulled their support for this special select committee.
Many Republicans have tried distance the attack from the rhetoric and encouragement of Trump and others in the party who repeated false claims about the election. Some Republicans have tried to downplay or deny the violence of January 6.
Officer Fanone had this to say to them.
“The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful! [FLASH] But nothing – truly, nothing – has 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. ”
Trump recently praised some of the rioters, calling them a "loving crowd," who were "hugging and kissing" police.
Sgt. Gonnell, who suffered broken bones in clashes with riots, had a response to that.
"I’m still recovering from those hugs and kisses.”