(CNN)The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack at the Capitol held its first hearing on Tuesday with harrowing testimony from four officers who shared their stories of being attacked by the rioters.
The three-hour hearing was the opening act for the committee that's preparing to investigate all of the circumstances surrounding the January 6 insurrection, including the role played by former President Donald Trump. But the first hearing was focused squarely on the violence officers faced at the hands of a mob of Trump supporters.Here are five takeaways from the committee's first hearing:
Gripping, gut-wrenching testimony illustrates the violence of January 6One by one, the four officers who testified Tuesday --
One by one, the four officers who testified Tuesday -- DC Metropolitan Police Officers Daniel Hodges and Michael Fanone, and Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn and Sgt. Aquilino Gonell -- recounted their gut-wrenching stories about how they were attacked and their lives were threatened on January 6.
Hughes described how he was forced to scream out in agony as he was pressed between the rioters and a metal doorframe. Fanone described how he was dragged into the crowd, beaten and electrocuted repeatedly with his Taser.
This was no tourist visitTrump and some his GOP allies have actively tried to downplay the violence that occurred on January 6. Some congressional Republicans have suggested there was no insurrection, that the rioters weren't violent or armed, and Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia even compared scenes from the January 6 rioters to a "normal tourist visit."
The body-cam footage was violent and hard to watch.
"The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful!" Fanone continued, raising his voice and slamming his fist on the table in one of the most powerful moments of the hearing.
Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, one of the two Republicans appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the committee, asked Gonell specifically about Trump's comments that the crowd was loving.
"It's upsetting. It's a pathetic excuse for his behavior for something that he himself helped to create this monstrosity," Gonell said. "I'm still recovering from those hugs and kisses that day, that he claimed that so many rioters, terrorists, were assaulting us that day."
The select committee is going after TrumpOutside of Cheney's questions, the select committee didn't turn much of its opening hearing on Trump's role in the January 6 insurrection, focusing on the rioters who attacked the Capitol and the officers protecting it.But it's clear that's where the committee is headed.
“We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House – every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack," she said. "If those responsible are not held accountable, and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our constitutional republic, undermining the peaceful transfer of power at the heart of our democratic system."
The Justice Department made it easier for former officials to testify, formally declining to assert executive privilege for the testimony of at least some witnesses related to the January 6 attack, according to a person briefed on the matter.
It still remains to be seen whether Trump, his former aides or his allies in Congress will actually testify – his White House has defied congressional subpoenas before – but the select committee is already signaling it's going to try.
Trump allies are on the outside looking in
House Democrats have held numerous high-profile hearings over the past several years aimed at the former President, from the testimony of former special counsel Robert Mueller to the impeachment proceedings over Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.
This was the first time none of Trump's allies could offer up a defense of the former president.
The seven Democrats and two Republicans on the select committee are all of the same mindset about the importance of getting to the bottom of what happened on January 6 and investigating Trump's role in the insurrection.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pulled the five Republicans he'd appointed to the select committee after Pelosi rejected two of his selections, and he's charged that the move shows Pelosi's select committee is politically motivated. McCarthy and the Republicans held a press conference to attack Pelosi ahead of the hearing Tuesday morning.
But the two Republicans who are on the committee as Pelosi appointees sought to rebut McCarthy's claims at Tuesday's hearing. Cheney was given a de facto speaking slot after Thompson to give an opening statement about the importance of the committee to get to the truth of what happened on January 6.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican added to the panel after McCarthy withdrew his picks, choked up as he spoke to the officers testifying, explaining that he was serving on the committee "not in spite of my membership in the Republican Party but because of it."
"We still don't know exactly what happened. Why? Because many in my party have treated this as just another partisan fight," Kinzinger said. "It's toxic, and it's a disservice to the officers and their families, to the staff and employees on the Capitol Complex, and to the American people who deserve the truth."
The impact of January 6 goes well beyond politics
The creation the select committee to investigate January 6 has been swept up in a political fight for months now over how the January 6 insurrection should be investigated. The committee's work will undoubtedly delve into the political realm as it examines the role of Trump and the reasons the pro-Trump supporters descended on the Capitol, attacked officers and tried to stop the certification of Biden's November election victory.
But Tuesday's testimony underscored the lasting of impact the attack for those who experienced it up close on January 6. It's been particularly acute for Capitol Police officers, who have been hampered by low morale and shrinking ranks in the months following the attack.
The officers' testifying on Tuesday became emotional at multiple points as they recounted their stories and expressed raw frustration about how lawmakers they protect at the Capitol have tried to downplay or ignore what happened.
"It's indescribable. You're defending the indefensible," Gonell said of those lawmakers defending the insurrectionists. "It demoralizes not just the rank-and-file but the future recruits. What do you think people considering becoming law enforcement officers think when they see elected leaders downplaying this. Why would I risk my life for them, when they don't even care?"
In his testimony, Dunn acknowledged the mental toll the January 6 attack had on many officers, saying he's sought counseling and making a plea to his colleagues to be unafraid do the same.
"More than six months later, January 6 still isn't over for me," Dunn said. "I know so many other officers continue to hurt, both physically and emotionally. … What we went through that day was traumatic, and if you're hurting, please take advantage of the counseling services available to us."
Jeremy Herb, CNNUpdated 6:33 PM EDT, Tue July 27, 2021
July 28, 2021
Voices4America Post Script. January 6 Investigation- I cried and my heart ached after hearing the 4 amazing, brave Americans who fought for our Democracy on January 6. You?I have included some videos of what we heard and saw at yesterday's hearing. Share them and the CNN Overview.
Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney's Opening Statement at yesterday's January 6 Hearing.
Rep. Liz Cheney delivers Jan. 6 committee hearing opening remarks youtu.be
Sargeant Gonnell fights back tears while recalling the trauma of January 6.
Sgt. Gonell Fights Back Tears While Recounting Trauma Of Jan. 6 Riot youtu.be
Officer Dunn recalling the racist abuse he faced on January 6.
'Is This America?': Officer Dunn Recalls Racist Abuse He Faced During Capitol Riot youtu.be
This is the new video of the violence at the riot of January 6.
Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger grew emotional hearing testimony from Officers.
Kinzinger Grows Emotional Hearing Testimony From Officers On Capitol Riot youtu.be