Adam Kinzinger calls GOP demands for him to be punished ‘petty’ and says he’ll ‘defend democracy’ no matter what

Adam Kinzinger
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois) speaks during a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on Capitol Hill on March 10, 2021.

  • GOP Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney accepted invitations by Nancy Pelosi to join the House Select Committee investigating January 6.
  • The move has prompted several fellow Republicans to call for Kinzinger and Cheney’s punishment by leadership.
  • But Kinzinger told reporters on Tuesday that he will “defend democracy” no matter the consequences.
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Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger is unbothered by the “petty” behavior of some of his fellow party members, he told reporters on Tuesday.

A growing number of GOP lawmakers want House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to punish Kinzinger and fellow Republican Rep. Liz Cheney for accepting Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s invitation to join the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection.

But amid the inter-party fighting, Kinzinger said he has only one priority in joining the contested committee: defending democracy.

“If people want to get petty, that’s fine,” Kinzinger said in response to a reporter question about calls among fellow Republicans that he be stripped of his committee assignments. “I think that reflects more on people than it does on the situation at hand.”

Emotions ran high for the Illinois lawmaker during the first hearing held by the select committee on Tuesday. Kinzinger choked up while praising the police officers who helped fight off the violent, pro-Trump mob.

Kinzinger and Cheney of Wyoming have emerged as mavericks in the Republican party since both were among the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over the Capitol attack earlier this year.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Kinzinger also criticized his fellow Republicans for their attempts to downplay the deadly riot and dismiss the investigation as a partisan farce.

“This is a historic moment and this is a democracy-defending moment,” Kinzinger said after the hearing. “No matter the consequences, me, and I know Liz, will stand and defend democracy.”

According to CNN, GOP efforts to seek punishment for Kinzinger and Cheney swelled to new levels over the weekend following Pelosi’s announcement that both Republicans would be joining the committee after the speaker rejected two of McCarthy’s picks, Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio, prompting the leader to withdraw all five of his choices.

The most prominent calls for discipline have come from the party’s far-right Freedom Caucus, the outlet reported, but the feeling is starting to spread among more moderate members.

But removing the two dissenters from their committee assignments would likely be difficult for McCarthy, as Democrats currently control committee membership as the majority party in the House.

“All I have to say…is we had a big attack on January 6,” Kinzinger said. “We heard very emotional testimony today and that is what’s on the forefront of my mind.”

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‘I cried out in pain’: DC police officer Daniel Hodges recounts when he was crushed by rioters between a door on January 6

daniel hodges
Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges testifies during the opening hearing of the U.S. House (Select) Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol on July 27, 2021.

  • MPD officer Daniel Hodges recounted how rioters attacked him on January 6.
  • Hodges described the moment when he was crushed between a door frame of the Capitol.
  • “I was effectively defenseless,” Hodges said.
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Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges vividly recounted the physical abuse he faced while defending the Capitol on January 6 during a House hearing on Tuesday.

Hodges described the moment when rioters trampled the barriers of the Capitol and attempted to break into a building entrance, resulting in a viral video of him being crushed against a revolving door.

“My arms were pinned and effectively useless, trapped against either the shield on my left and the door frame on my right,” Hodges said. “With my posture granting me no functional strength or freedom of movement, I was effectively defenseless and gradually sustaining injury from the increasing pressure of the mob.”

“Directly in front of me, a man sees the opportunity of my vulnerability, grabbed the front of my gas mask and used it to beat my head against the door,” Hodges continued. “He switched to pulling it off my head, the straps stretching against my skull and straining my neck.”

Hodges added that the man ultimately succeeded in removing his gas mask, leaving the police officer exposed to chemical irritants sprayed by the rioters.

Another man then grabbed Hodges’ baton and “bashed me in the head and face with it, rupturing my lip and adding additional injury to my skull,” Hodges said.

Video footage and photos of the violent scene show Hodges stuck between the doorway with a bloody lip.

The rioters, whom Hodges repeatedly referred to as “terrorists,” then started “pushing their weight forward, crushing me further against the metal door frame,” Hodges continued.

“At this point, I knew I couldn’t sustain much more damage and remain upright,” Hodges said. “At best, I would collapse and be a liability to my colleagues. At worst, be dragged out into the crowd and lynched.”

Hodges then said he resorted to do “the only thing that I could do and screamed for help.”

His yells were eventually heard by another police officer who was able to extricate him from the position. Hodges said he found water to decontaminate his face and “soon after” went back to the fight.

The DC police officer was one of four law enforcement officials on Capitol Hill on Tuesday who testified before a House select committee that is investigating the January 6 insurrection.

Hodges recounted other instances from that day when the rioters attacked him, including one man who “latched onto” his face and “got his thumb” in Hodges’ right eye, “attempting to gouge it out.”

“I cried out in pain and managed to shake him off before any permanent damage was done,” Hodges said.

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GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger chokes up while telling police who fought off pro-Trump mob on January 6 that ‘you guys won’

Rep. Adam Kinzinger wiping away tears.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger wipes his eyes as he listens to testimony during a hearing by the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol on July 27, 2021.

  • GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger praised officers who held off the pro-Trump mob on January 6.
  • Choking up during a House hearing on the Capitol attack, Kinzinger told them: “You guys won. You guys held.”
  • Kinzinger also slammed the “toxic” behavior of fellow Republicans attacking the House probe.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois on Tuesday became emotional as he praised the officers who helped fight off the violent, pro-Trump mob that descended upon the US Capitol on January 6.

“You guys may feel, individually, a little broken … But you guys won. You guys held,” Kinzinger, a US Air Force veteran, told the officers during the first hearing held by the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection.

“Democracies are not defined by our bad days. We’re defined by how we come back from bad days,” Kinzinger went on to say.

Kinzinger, one of two GOP lawmakers on the committee, also ripped into his fellow Republicans over their efforts to downplay the insurrection and dismiss the probe as a partisan sham.

“We still don’t know exactly what happened. Why? Because many in my party have treated this as just another partisan fight. It’s toxic and it’s a disservice to the officers and their families,” Kinzinger said.

The January 6 insurrection was provoked by President Donald Trump and his lies about the 2020 election. He repeated the false claim that the election had been “stolen” from him and urged the thousands of supporters who gathered near the White House that day to march on the Capitol. The rioters delayed but failed to prevent the certification of President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

In the immediate aftermath of the Capitol attack, a number of top Republicans condemned the rioters and excoriated Trump for inciting the riot. But the GOP’s tone shifted within weeks, and Senate Republicans ensured that Trump was acquitted after he was impeached over the insurrection. Republicans have since engaged in a coordinated effort to whitewash the insurrection and rewrite history, while pushing against efforts to investigate the Capitol attack.

Senate Republicans in late May blocked a bill to establish an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the insurrection. This prompted the House to vote in favor of establishing a select committee to investigate the riot.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarty last week recommended five Republicans for the committee. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected two of his picks – Trump loyalists Reps. Jim Banks and Jim Jordan. Both Banks and Jordan objected to the certification of the election results. McCarthy, who also objected to certification and spoke to Trump on the day of the insurrection, subsequently pulled all of his picks and said Republicans would pursue their own investigation. The GOP leader has dismissed the official House inquiry as a partisan “sham.”

Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming has joined Kinzinger as the other Republican on the nine-member panel. Kinzinger and Cheney were among the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over the January 6 insurrection.

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‘This is how I’m going to die’: Capitol Police sergeant Aquilino Gonell tearfully describes the ‘constant trauma’ of January 6

Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell
US Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell wipes his eye as he watches a video being displayed during a House select committee hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 27, 2021.

  • US Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell gave vivid and emotional testimony on the January 6 riot.
  • Gonell recalled “verbal assaults and disrespect” from the rioters and the “horrific and devastating” violence.
  • “What we were subjected to that day was like something from a medieval battle,” he recounted.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

US Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell recounted the violence of the January 6 insurrection in an emotional testimony before the first hearing of the House select committee on Tuesday, saying he could have died “many times” that day.

Sgt. Gonell, US Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, and Metropolitan Police Officers Daniel Hodges and Michael Fanone were the witnesses testifying at the hearing. All were on the front lines of defending the Capitol from the violence of the riot.

“For most people, January 6 happened for a few hours. But for those of us who were in the thick of it, it has not ended,” Gonell said.

Gonell, giving his opening remarks through tears at several points, captivated the room with vivid testimony about the carnage.

“To be honest, I did not recognize my fellow citizens that day, or the United States they claimed to represent,” Gonell said, adding that “on January 6, for the first time, I was more afraid to work at the Capitol than my entire deployment in Iraq.”

He recalled the “verbal assaults and disrespect” from the rioters and the “horrific and devastating” violence they exacted, describing being kicked, shoved, and assaulted with knives, batons, shields, and chemical irritants.

“What we were subjected to that day was like something from a medieval battle. We fought hand to hand, inch by inch, to prevent an invasion of the Capitol by a violent mob intent on subverting our democratic process,” Gonell said.

Gonell recalled “being pulled” by rioters and being hit with his own baton.

“I vividly heard officers screaming in agony, in pain, just an arm’s length from me. I didn’t know at that time that was Officer Hodges, and he’s here today to testify,” he said.

“I too was being crushed by the rioters,” Gonell said. “I could feel myself losing oxygen and recall thinking to myself, ‘This is how I’m going to die,’ defending this entrance.”

“It was not until 4:26 p.m., after giving CPR to one of the rioters who breached the Capitol in an effort to save her life, that I finally had a chance to let my own family know that I was alive,” Gonell said.

Gonell said that while he returned to work the day after the insurrection, he’s been out on medical and administrative for much of the time since, and has undergone multiple surgeries caused by the riot.

“I continued to work for 15 consecutive days until after the inauguration. I made sure to work despite my injuries because I wanted to continue doing my job and help secure the Capitol complex,” Gonell said. “More than six months later, I’m still trying to recover from my injuries. I sustained injuries on both my hands, my left shoulder, my left calf and my right foot. I already undergone fusion surgery on my right foot and I was just told that I need surgery on my left shoulder.”

Gonell said that when he was finally able to arrive home, he “had to push my wife away from me because she wanted to hug me. And I told her ‘no,’ because of all the chemicals my uniform had on. I couldn’t sleep because the chemicals reactivated after I took a shower and my skin was burning.”

At the end of his opening statement, Gonell also called out those people who have criticized athletes who have knelt during the national anthem at sports games but have downplayed the violence of the January 6 insurrection.

He also noted that law enforcement received ample resources during the protests of summer 2020, but not the Capitol siege.

“We are not asking for medals or recognition. We simply want justice and accountability,” he said.

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Trump defended sending supporters to the Capitol on January 6, saying he wanted them to go up to it but not inside

Trump Jan 6
Donald Trump on screen as he gave a speech before the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021.

  • Donald Trump said that he wanted supporters to “not go in” the Capitol on January 6.
  • Supporters attacked officers and breached the Capitol after Trump gave an incendiary speech.
  • Trump and his allies have tried to whitewash the events of January 6.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Donald Trump defended whipping up his supporters ahead of the January 6 riot, arguing that he never wanted anybody to actually go inside the Capitol.

Trump told amassed supporters that day that he wanted them to “fight” for him, claiming falsely that he election had been stolen.

The justification came in an audio interview released Wednesday which Trump gave to Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker.

Its contents informed their new book “I Alone Can Fix It”, an account of Trump’s tumultuous final months in power. The discussion took place on March 31 at Trump’s resort in Mar-a-Lago, Florida.

Leonnig and Rucker played the audio for the first time in a Wednesday appearance on CNN with host Anderson Cooper.

In the interview Leonnig questioned Trump about his actions on January 6, when he delivered a fiery speech to supporters, groundlessly claiming that the presidential election had been stolen from him.

“If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” he said, and exhorted them to march to the Capitol.

Shortly afterwards thousands of supporters were engaged in violent clashes with police and broke through police lines to breach the Capitol. The violence halted a proceeding to certify Joe Biden’s victory as president as lawmakers were evacuated to safety.

In the interview, Trump claimed his supporters went further than he wanted, though he also claimed they were less violent that commonly perceived.

“I would have said to them that you will show – not to go in,” Trump claimed, adding: “I mean, personally what I wanted is what they wanted.”

Trump went on to claim that the demonstrators were let in by police.

“I mean in all fairness, the Capitol Police were ushering people in,” he said.

“The Capitol police were very friendly. You know, they were hugging and kissing. You don’t see that but there’s plenty of tape on that.”

This is partly true – six officers in February were suspended after video footage showed them guiding rioters into the Capitol when police lines had been overwhelmed.

The interaction between police and rioters also involved violent clashes. More than 150 police officers were injured on January 6, sustaining serious head wounds, smashed ribs and cracked spinal discs.

Rioters used flagpoles, bear spray and batons to attack officers. A police officer was initially reported to have died as a result of his injuries, but a medical examiner in April concluded he had died of natural causes.

Trump in the interview described the protesters as a “loving crowd.”

In his speech, Trump had told the crowd he would go with them to the Capitol. Instead he returned to the White House, where he watched the chaos unfold on television.

He was banned from Twitter and Facebook for posts that day which the networks said incited futher violence.

Trump impeached on the charge of inciting the riot, but ultimately acquitted after the Senate did not reach the two-thirds majority required for conviction.

Trump’s comments underline a months-long campaign by some Republicans to whitewash the violence on January 6.

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Liz Cheney calls Kevin McCarthy’s January 6 rhetoric ‘disgraceful’ and says his lack of ‘commitment to the Constitution’ should disqualify him from being House speaker if GOP wins in 2022

liz cheney
Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, speaks to the press at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on May 12, 2021.

  • Rep. Liz Cheney blasted House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday over the January 6 committee.
  • She called his comments on Pelosi’s select committee “disingenuous.”
  • Cheney also said McCarthy should not be considered for the House speakership if the GOP wins in 2022.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Liz Cheney on Wednesday blasted House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy over his “disingenuous” comments about the select committee to investigate the January 6 Capitol insurrection.

“The rhetoric that we have heard from the minority leader is disingenuous,” Cheney told reporters at the Capitol, adding that the riot was “an attack on our Constitution.”

“At every opportunity, the minority leader has attempted to prevent the American people from understanding what happened to block this investigation,” she continued. “The idea that anybody would be playing politics with an attack on the United States Capitol is despicable and disgraceful.”

The Wyoming Republican further criticized McCarthy by suggesting that he should not be considered for the House speakership if the GOP wins back the House in the 2022 midterm elections.

“Any person who would be third in line to the presidency must demonstrate a commitment to the Constitution and a commitment to the rule of law, and minority leader McCarthy has not done that,” she said.

Cheney’s comments came shortly after McCarthy said House Republicans will conduct their own probe into the Capitol riot, separate from the January 6 select committee that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has launched.

It’s unclear what exactly the House GOP investigation will focus on, but McCarthy broadly pointed to the law enforcement failures on the day of the riot.

“Why was the Capitol so ill-prepared for that day … and what have we done to make sure that never happens again?” McCarthy said Wednesday.

McCarthy went on to criticize Pelosi’s efforts to investigate the insurrection, calling the committee a “sham process” and overly partisan.

The top GOP lawmaker originally recommended five House Republicans to join Pelosi’s select committee, including Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio, two Congress members who objected to the 2020 election certification on January 6.

But McCarthy pulled all of his recommendations and threatened to launch his own investigation in response to Pelosi rejecting his picks, Banks and Jordan, from serving on the committee. Pelosi agreed to McCarthy’s three other GOP appointments, Reps. Rodney Davis of Illinois, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota and Troy Nehls of Texas.

“With respect for the integrity of the investigation, with an insistence on the truth and with concern about statements made and actions taken by these Members, I must reject the recommendations of Representatives Banks and Jordan to the Select Committee,” Pelosi said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The unprecedented nature of January 6th demands this unprecedented decision,” she added.

Cheney backed Pelosi’s move on Wednesday, telling reporters that the top Democrat is dedicated to carrying out a serious investigation, whereas McCarthy is not.

Pelosi picked Cheney to serve on the select committee earlier this month. The lawmaker has been ostracized by her GOP colleagues, including McCarthy, who voted to oust her from her leadership position in May over her pushback on former President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.

“The American people deserve to know what happened. People who did this must be held accountable,” Cheney said Wednesday. “There must be an investigation that is nonpartisan, that is sober, that is serious, that gets to the facts wherever they may lead.”

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McCarthy says the GOP will run its own investigation into January 6 after Pelosi rejected 2 of his picks for a House committee

Kevin McCarthy
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.

  • McCarthy on Wednesday said the GOP will run its own investigation into January 6.
  • This came after Pelosi rejected two of his picks for the House committee to investigate the insurrection.
  • McCarthy said Pelosi is running a “sham process,” though Republicans blocked a bipartisan commission.
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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday said House Republicans will conduct their own investigation into January 6 after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected two of his recommendations for the House select committee to investigation the Capitol insurrection.

In response to Pelosi’s announcement that she would not accept GOP Reps. Jim Banks and Jim Jordan as members of the committee, McCarthy said none of the five Republicans he recommended would participate unless the House Speaker reversed course. Pelosi said she was willing to accept McCarthy’s other three picks for the committee, and had requested the House GOP leader recommend alternatives to Banks and Jordan. McCarthy evidently rejected this approach.

“We will run our own investigation,” McCarthy said during a news conference. It’s unclear precisely what this will mean, though McCarthy emphasized that Republicans want to look into law enforcement failures on the day of the insurrection.

“Why was the Capitol so ill-prepared for that day … and what have we done to make sure that never happens again?” McCarthy said.

McCarthy blasted Pelosi for running what he decried as a “sham process,” accusing the Speaker of making the House committee too partisan. But Republicans also blocked the formation of a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection, which is what led the Democratic-led House to vote in favor of forming the committee.

The House committee will still include one Republican selected by Pelosi earlier this month – Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming. Cheney was among the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump. She’s faced backlash from fellow Republicans for refusing to embrace Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election, and was ousted as GOP conference chair in May.

When asked about about the potential for Republicans to pull out entirely from the inquiry, Pelosi on Wednesday told reporters, “We have a bipartisan quorum. We can proceed.”

Cheney on Wednesday said she agreed with Pelosi’s decision and excoriated McCarthy for attempting to “prevent the American people from understanding what happened.”

Pelosi said allowing Banks and Jordan on the committee would’ve jeopardized its “integrity.” Like McCarthy, both lawmakers are close allies of Trump and objected to the certification of the 2020 election results. Earlier in the week, Banks and Jordan slammed the overall aims of the House committee to investigate January 6.

“You know what this is about. This is about going after President Trump. The Democrats don’t want to talk about anything else,” Jordan said during a CNN appearance.

“Make no mistake, Nancy Pelosi created this committee solely to malign conservatives and to justify the Left’s authoritarian agenda,” Banks said in a statement.

A comphrehensive investigation into January 6 could be uncomfortable for the GOP given the myriad ways in which many Republican lawmakers amplified Trump’s lies surrounding the election, which catalyzed the fatal riot on January 6.

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Congressional investigators on the January 6 committee will probe Trump and could subpoena former officials: report

bennie thompson
House Homeland Security Committee Chair Benny Thompson (D-MS) listens as U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) discusses the formation of a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol during a news conference in Washington, U.S., July 1, 2021.

  • The January 6 select committee will vigorously probe Trump, Rep. Bennie Thompson said.
  • Thompson, the committee’s chair, told the Guardian that “nothing is off limits” for the panel.
  • The committee will investigate Trump’s call with McCarthy on the day of the Capitol riot and could issue subpoenas to former Trump officials.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The House select committee probing the Capitol insurrection on January 6 is kicking off its efforts this month with plans to investigate former President Donald Trump and potentially issue subpoenas to former high-ranking Trump officials.

Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the committee’s chairman, told the Guardian in a recent interview that “nothing is off limits” when it comes to what the panel will investigate and what testimony they’ll seek, especially pertaining to Trump’s actions leading up to and during the deadly insurrection.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proposed the select committee after Republicans in the Senate filibustered legislation to create an independent, bipartisan, 9/11-style commission to probe the January 6 insurrection.

The committee has 13 members including Thompson: seven Democrats and six Republicans, including ousted House GOP caucus chair Liz Cheney, who was appointed to the panel by Pelosi. The group will hold its first hearing on July 27, with multiple law enforcement officials slated to testify.

The committee, Thompson said, will also get to the bottom of what was discussed in Trump’s phone call with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on January 6, when, according to reports, McCarthy begged Trump to step in and do something to quell the riots.

“There will not be a reluctance on the part of the committee to pursue it,” Thompson told the Guardian about the call. “The committee will want to know if there is a record of what was said.”

Read more: Inside the listserv for Capitol attack defense lawyers

The committee will also try to zero in on what other conversations Trump may have had with lawmakers that day, he added.

“If somebody spoke to the president on January 6, I think it would be important for our committee to know what was said. I can’t imagine you talk about anything else to the president on January 6,” Thompson said to the Guardian.

There’s even the possibility of compelling testimony from individuals close to the president on January 6, including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump’s daughter and then-White House advisor Ivanka Trump, Thompson added.

And if former officials resist congressional subpoenas, “we will pursue it in court,” Thompson told the Guardian.

Expanded Coverage Module: capitol-siege-module

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US Capitol riot: Police officers to testify at first meeting of the January 6 select committee

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they try to storm the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021.
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they try to storm the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021.

  • The US House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack holds its first hearing July 27.
  • The committee was created after Republicans defeated an effort to create an independent commission.
  • It has 13 members, but only eight have been named thus far. Rep. Liz Cheney is the lone Republican.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Police officers who were attacked by a pro-Trump mob at the US Capitol will testify before Congress next week at the first meeting of a select committee created to investigate the attack.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi who chairs the panel, announced Monday that the officers would testify July 27 regarding, “The Law Enforcement Experience on January 6th.”

Among those testify is Michael Fanone, an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC.

Fanone, according to prosecutors, was shot with a stun gun, dragged down steps at the US Capitol, and beaten with a flagpole. He suffered a heart attack during the attack, which he said has left him with post-traumatic stress disorder.

At least 140 police officers were injured during the riot. At least two died during or following the attack: one from a stroke suffered after being hit with bear spray, which a medical examiner said may have been a contributing factor, and another from suicide.

Earlier this month, federal agents arrested a Pennsylvania man after a video appeared to show him charging at police with a stun gun and assaulting a photographer who captured the footage.

In June, the House passed legislation creating a select committee to investigate the January 6 attack after Republicans defeated a Democratic proposal for an independent commission.

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Facebook saw signs of violence ahead of the Capitol riot, but was too scared to bring it up with Trump, book says

Zuck
Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in 2018.

  • Facebook detected an upsurge in posts by extremists ahead of January 6, a new book says.
  • Executives, it says, mulled asking Mark Zuckerberg to reach out to Trump but decided against it.
  • Facebook has long been criticised for allowing extremist content to spread on its platform.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Facebook was so concerned about the violent rhetoric spreading on its platform ahead of January 6 that it considered contacting President Donald Trump, a new book claims.

But it instead decided against it for fear of bad publicity, according to an excerpt from “An Ugly Truth” by New York Times reporters Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang.

The excerpt was published by CNN’s in the July 13 edition of its “Reliable Sources” email.

It says that security experts at Facebook grew concerned about posts by “domestic extremists” spreading on the platform before January 6, 2021, when Trump had planned a rally near the Capitol to push his bogus election fraud claims.

Facebook executives, the authors write, “floated getting Zuckerberg to call Trump to find out what the president would say” at the rally.

“They ultimately decided against the move, out of concern that the conversation would likely leak to the press. It could make Facebook complicit in whatever Trump did that day.”

In a statement to Insider, a Facebook spokesperson pushed back against the claims though did not address the specific claim that the idea of approaching Trump was dismissed before it was broached with Zuckerberg.

“No such discussion took place with Mark, nobody suggested he call, and he didn’t. If Trump ignored the pleas of his own Vice President, the idea that Mark Zuckerberg could have influenced him is absurd,” said the spokesperson.

The anecdote was also related by Bloomberg tech reporter Sarah Frier in a review of the book in The New York Times on Saturday.

Facebook executives, Frier wrote, decided not to act over the violent rhetoric. “Instead, they sat at home and watched as Trump stirred up the furious crowd, and as threats in Facebook posts escalated into real-world attacks on the Capitol.”

The book explores Facebook’s failings in allowing extremist propaganda and disinformation to spread on its platforms, reaching millions of its users. The site has long been accused of acting slowly and in a piecemeal way to counter the spread of extremist content, and lacking a proactive strategy on the issue.

A report by the Tech Transparency Project found that Facebook had been one of the main gathering spaces for the the far-right extremists involved in the Capitol insurrection.

The platform’s CEO, Sheryl Sandberg, last year faced criticism for claiming that the disinformation that fueled the riot was mainly spreading on other platforms.

The excerpt from the book indicates that top executives knew that this was likely false.

Facebook in its statement to Insider said that “our teams were vigilant in removing content that violated our policies against inciting violence leading up to January 6th. We were prepared for this and have been more aggressive than any other internet company in combating harmful content, including content that sought to delegitimize the election.”

The spokesperson pointed to measures including banning extremist movements such as QAnon from the platform, and banning Trump for at least two years for his posts during the riot.

Trump and Zuckerberg had an uneasy relationship during Trump’s term, with the site one of the Trump campaign’s key platforms for its propaganda efforts.

Since his ban and departure from office, Trump haslaunched a lawsuit against Facebook and other tech firms, citing his ban as well as alleging wider bias against conservatives.

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