Listen to the January 6 Survivors

Kevin McCarthy's refusal to face the facts must not determine democracy's fate

Police Sgt. Harry Dunn (left) hugs officer Michael Fanone on July 27, 2021, after testifying before the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack. (Photo by Andrew Harnik-Pool via Getty Images.)

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy claimed last week that he didn’t listen to the four police officers who testified about what they faced on January 6 at the Capitol.

That would mean he refused to hear D.C. Metropolitan police officer Michael Fanone describe being repeatedly tasered, beaten unconscious and suffering a heart attack. Or how Capitol Police sergeant Aquilino Gonell was attacked with chemicals and lasers. Or how Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn was abused by this vicious crowd and called the N-word, a first for him while in uniform. Or how Metropolitan Police officer Daniel Hodges was crushed in a doorway and repeatedly described the violent extremists as “terrorists.”

No, Kevin McCarthy was too busy, he said, to hear any of their searing testimony—although he did have time that morning to join New York Rep. Elise Stefanik and hear her claim that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was responsible for the January 6 attacks because she “prioritized her partisan political optics” over the officers’ safety.

Of course, the very busy McCarthy surely did hear Trump call the violent insurrectionists “a loving crowd,” and, recently on Fox News, call those in custody “tremendous people.” And he surely heard Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar call those in jail “political prisoners.” This is all part of the methodical gaslighting to persist with the Big Lie of election fraud, minimize the violence of that day, stand by the terrorists’ self-description as “patriots,” and pretend that the use of the American flag to beat law-enforcement officials can be glossed over while they kowtow to Trump and drag down democracy.

McCarthy, in his effort to load the House Select Committee with culpable circus performers like Jim Jordan, has made it clear that the last thing he wants is to hear or spread the truth. But that was increasingly clear by the time we got to January 6, a fact that made it easier for the extremists to attack the Capitol with the confidence that elected GOP leaders were on their side.

As Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans invited by Speaker Pelosi to serve on the committee, said in his opening statement: This was “an attack by our own people fostered and encouraged by those granted power through the very system they sought to overturn.”

In the refusal of every Senate Republican to back a bipartisan commission in May, they told us how motivated they are to get to the bottom of that day and investigate the inciters, organizers and funders. We know that Trump servant Kevin McCarthy sees no evil, hears no evil and speaks no evil—unless he can find a way to blame the Democrats for the unraveling of our democracy and the rise of political violence.

But let’s clearly hear the words of the police officers who barely escaped January 6 with their lives. Said Officer Hodges to the select committee:

“You guys are the only ones we’ve got to deal with crimes that occur above us. I need you guys to address if anyone in power had a role in this. If anyone in power coordinated, or aided abetted or tried to downplay, tried to prevent the investigation of this terrorist attack.”

Said Officer Dunn, who echoed his fellow officers in his criticism of Trump and the Republicans who refuse to face the facts: “There was an attack on Jan. 6, and a hit man sent them. I want you to get to the bottom of that.”

You and me both, Officer Dunn. You, me and millions of other Americans who recognize that until the Inciter-in-Chief is properly investigated and held accountable, we will continue to face the threat of more terrorist attacks by self-described patriots convinced that they can take power through violence and lies. If that becomes the American way, then the long-held promise of self-governance will reach its tragic conclusion.

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