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Officers Attacked at U.S. Capitol Testify at Insurrection Hearing; Lawmakers Speak after Emotional Testimony in Insurrection Hearing. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired July 27, 2021 - 13:00   ET


BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Without objection, the committee stands adjourned.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good afternoon, I'm Jake Tapper. And you've been listening to gripping, emotional and, frankly, gut-wrenching testimony from four police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol and were beaten by a pro-Trump mob in the very first hearing to investigate that deadly January 6th insurrection.

Two Capitol Police officers, two D.C. Metropolitan Police officers told lawmakers in vivid detail about the physical, verbal, sometimes racist attacks they endured that fateful day from Trump-supporting criminals, whom one officer repeatedly characterized them as terrorists.

Another officer, Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, said using, using an analogy to describe a hit man. A hit man is hired and kill someone, the hit man goes to jail, but not only does the hit man go to jail but the person who hires the hit man goes to jail. We want to know who hired the hit man.

These four officers are among an estimated 150 or so who risked their lives to defend the Capitol that day from up to 9,000 insurrectionists, rioters, terrorists to defend the seat of America's democracy and the very lawmakers questioning them, and also to defend the Republican lawmakers elsewhere in the Capitol who have, frankly, devoted the last few months to smearing these officers, supporting the insurrectionists, doing everything they can to undermine the investigation into that day.

The two Republicans on this committee, conservative Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger expressed chagrin at the direction too many leaders of the Republican Party have taken in this sad and shameful episode.

But no attempt and spin by those revisionists could erase the videos we saw today. Some of them knew that members of the committee showed of the violent riots, capturing the chaos and the unfiltered horrors of the attack.

My panel of experts is back with me. Also with us, CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Terry Gainer, he's a former U.S. Capitol Police chief.

I want to start with you, Chief Ramsey. You know Officer Fanone. You swore him in when you were head of the D.C. Police. What was your reaction from this testimony from these officers?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I had a range of emotions. First of all, hearing their own story, to me, was even more powerful than watching the video because they gave details that the video just simply could not capture, really put things in context. And I felt anger that they had to go through that but I also felt a lot of pride.

I mean, these are the men and women that actually defended democracy and -- not just those four, but all the others. I think about many of the other officers not even in the Capitol or MPD, and just how proud I was that they took their oath so seriously, they put themselves in harm's way, and in some cases, unfortunately, for people who don't even appreciate it. But I think most of us as Americans do appreciate it.

TAPPER: And, Chief Gainer, you heard some of the officers talking about what they thought they were defending that day, and it really wasn't just about to them defending the individuals there. They were talking about defending democracy.

TERRANCE GAINER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT: Yes, Jake, their sense of duty is amazing. And as Chief Ramsey mentioned, they captured what being a law enforcement officer is all about. I couldn't be prouder either. And I worked very closely with two of them, so I know them very well. They really represent the best of what there is, and some of their individual statements about what America looked like that day, what America ought to be, the charge they gave the members of this committee. This was powerful testimony.

And also I agree with chuck. I hope that people get a sense of what those officers felt and go through and how it impacted their family. I'm very proud to know them, to have worked with them and to see where this goes.

TAPPER: And, John King, I think the House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy, thought that by doing everything he could to undermine any sort of investigation first by sandbagging the independent commission that was going to be truly bipartisan, then by putting a couple election deniers on this committee, then taking all the other members away when Pelosi vetoed those, I think he thought that he was going to do something to undermine the credibility of this committee. At least as of right now, and it's early, I don't think he achieved that.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No. The power of the heroism is what fueled the power of the testimony of these four officers, and I don't care what your politics are. Listening to them describe their lives were at risk, getting back up and going back out to the frontline, being dragged into the crowd, getting back up and going to the fight because you're trying to protect the lawmakers, the staff, the people, the institution, democracy.


Set your politics aside. There's so much power in that testimony.

And it's not just in the power of the testimony, it's what is it about. The officers have questions. Who were those people? Who brought them here? Where are they now? And I think that's a fundamental part. 550 people have been charged.

The video we all had to watch again traumatic for those who were on the frontlines and in the building that day, traumatic for all of us, but especially for the people who were right there, reminds us. Yes, 550 people have been charged. There are more than 500 people out there. The people, the sentiment, the lie is still being told. The lie is being told to the people who were there fueled by a lie.

And so the foundation of the committee is there are still questions to be answered. The politicians, all of them, did a perfectly fine job. But the power of the testimony from those four men in uniform about how they risked their lives on that day and the questions they have, I think that laid the foundation for your right.

A lot of challenging work for the committee going forward. Can they get Trump White House cooperation? Can they get people to turn over the documents? Can they get people to relive that day? We have a long way to go here.

But McCarthy wanted to say, we don't need this, those officers made the point of exactly why we do.

TAPPER: And also, Laura Coates, one of the things that the officers said is there can be no moving on until there is accountability. And you heard the Officer Fanone say that the 550 or so that have been charged, that's micro level. That's individual crimes. He wanted to know who was orchestrating this. That's where the investigation needs to go in his view.

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. You don't want to necessarily know what happens in the middle of the story. What we saw really, what happened to them, is the middle of the story. They were confronted with what was going on. What led up to it? What was the chronology and where is it going ending?

And I was really struck by so many moments. It was so moving to hear from officers talk about the reaction. There was a moment about going back to his wife. He couldn't touch her, although she spent hours trying to get to him because he was covered in these chemicals.

The idea of Officer Hodges talking about, I absolutely saw the thin blue line flags, a symbol of police support, multiple times, but they wouldn't listen to our commands.

TAPPER: Among the crowd beating up police officers.

COATES: Beating up these officers, attacking them, ignoring them.

You had Officer Fanone even note, I was no longer a threat or an impediment to even going into the Capitol and he used the word, tortured. I was tortured, nonetheless, as if that was truly the point of it.

And so what I saw was, thematically, this idea of getting in my head, how on Earth would the people that Kevin McCarthy intended to appoint were they going to cross or interview or question these officers? What would you say? How would you try to undermine the real strength of this testimony of saying look, even though to your point, Commissioner Ramsey, you took it for granted we'd be there the next day.

And hour by hour we moved just a couple inches and we still are here. And this idea of the dereliction of duty, the betrayal of the oath, and we all remember, we all reacted when the Officer Fanone pounded on that table and called what happened a disgrace, knowing what's there, and it's ongoing.

TAPPER: All right. Well, that's the second time that moment has been referenced. So, let's play that. This is D.C. Police Officer Michael Fanone.


OFFICER MICHAEL FANONE, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE: My fellow citizens, including so many of the people I put my life at risk to defend are downplaying or outright denying what happened. I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room. But too many are now telling me that hell doesn't exist, or that hell actually wasn't that bad. The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful.


TAPPER: And let's be clear about this, Jamie Gangel. I mean, the indifference being shown to his colleagues are by House Republican leaders and others who continually wrap themselves in back the blue flags.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: It is stunning. And as he went onto say right after this, he said nothing has prepared me to address those who have denied and betrayed their oath of office. Just the words that were used throughout the day, Officer Hodges, terrorists, over and over again, and then he brought the receipts, he described the U.S. code in that. Some of the descriptions, you will die on your knees.

What these officers went through, as the chief said, it was -- just hearing their descriptions was, I think, equally or more powerful than the video.

I want to say -- talk about two people who were not the witnesses who we heard from today, and those were the two Republicans who were there.


Liz Cheney's statement was absolutely calling out her own party and her own leadership.

TAPPER: Yes. Let's make -- I want to play that. Because one of the things that's for people watching at home who don't know the subtext, Liz Cheney has been saying very publicly at much political cost to her career and also prompting death threats from Trump supporters that they're going to go wherever the evidence goes including potentially calling House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy to testify. And this is her suggesting that without naming McCarthy. We should go to clip two.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): The American people deserve the full and open testimony of every person with knowledge of the planning and preparation for January 6th. We must know what happened here at the Capitol. 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. Honorable men and women have an obligation to step forward.


TAPPER: Now, that's not a subpoena but it might as well be.

GANGEL: So, this is something that goes for before January 6th. January 6th was horrific. But in the weeks and months leading up to it, there were members of Congress meeting with President Trump. Those rallies, the permits for them, were applied for and paid for by former White House staff, by former members of his campaign.

She said earlier today that, you know, is Jim Jordan a material witness? Is Kevin McCarthy a material witness?

TAPPER: But we know that Kevin McCarthy had a phone call that day with Trump.

GANGEL: But it's not just what happened January 6th. It's about the planning to get there.

TAPPER: And something else. One of the things, I mean, getting to the point where we have these four police officers, four from the D.C. Police, four from the Capitol Police, are talking openly, it's been a process. Initially, nobody was allowed to talk publicly about this. Then some of the Metropolitan Police officers, Dan Hodges and Michael Fanone, were allowed to give little statements, but it's been a process.

Now, you might remember early on, I think it was national public radio, had a conversation with a black Capitol Police officer, and they -- I forget. I think they had to take the transcript of the conversation and have an actor read it, because they didn't want his voice out there. Now, we have officers giving accounts on stage before an international forum.

And I want to play the clip from Harry Dunn, the Capitol Police officer, talking about the horrific racism that he experienced that day. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OFFICER HARRY DUNN, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: That prompted a torrent racial epithets. One woman in a pink MAGA shirt yelled, you hear that, guys? This nigger voted for Joe Biden. Then the crowd, perhaps around 20 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. In the days following the attempted insurrection, other black officers shared with me their own stories of racial abuse on January 6th. One officer told me he had never in his entire 40 years of life been called a nigger to his face, and that streak ended on January 6th.


TAPPER: We're going to talk more about that, but the lawmakers are now at the microphones outside the hearing room, and I want to go and listen.

THOMPSON: -- thankful for their testimony. It sets the right tone for the work of this committee but it also says that there's significant work that we have to do over the next few months.

Again, let me thank the four officers who committed themselves to testimony. It was important that we talk to the rank and file officers. As you know, several committees has had opportunities to talk to leadership in the Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police, but this was an opportunity we felt necessary in order to find out what those individuals who had to fight the rioters on January 6th had to endure.


So, we're happy to have heard the testimony. We're disappointed in so many of the challenges they've had to endure during and after from a health standpoint, family standpoint.

But in addition to that, I want to thank the members of the committee for their participation. Their questioning and everything was on point. I'd like to offer Congresswoman Cheney an opportunity to make a statement.

CHENEY: Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

I echo everything the chairman has said. I think this was a really important opportunity to get facts on the table and to hear directly from heroes who defended us that day. Also to begin to set out the task ahead of us and to really be able to do this in a nonpartisan fashion, which is clearly the spirit that every member of this committee has and which we'll do our job. So, thank you very much.

THOMPSON: Thank you very much.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Congresswoman Cheney -- THOMPSON: Hold on. We will entertain questions.

RAJU: Congresswoman Cheney, it's something you said, the onset of this hearing, you said we must also know what happened every minute of that day and at the White House, referring the Trump White House, you said, every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to during and after the attack. First of all, why do you think that is so central to this investigation? And is there agreement among the chairman to go down this road?

CHENEY: The chairman has said and everything has said very clearly the investigation is going to go wherever it may lead. And, obviously, the events of that day at the White House are a focus, and making sure that we get to the bottom of everything that went on. Every minute of the day is something the American people deserve.

THOMPSON: The four officers, if you heard my last question, we asked them what would they like to see from this hearing. And they, without exception, said we'd like to know who participated in it, who financed it, who encouraged it, who orchestrated it, and part of that is the challenge of this committee. And so we will follow the facts.

And as I look at the committee, and I said to them earlier, I don't see one shrinking violet, although we have one member who has a daughter named Violet. But other than that, we'll follow the facts.

REPORTER: To that, Mr. Chairman, you guys are about -- the House is supposed to go home for seven weeks after this week. How do you build on this? What do you do next?

THOMPSON: Well, we now have a body of testimony that we will review. We are in the process of putting that together. I've put some of the members on notice that they won't enjoy the entire August recess, but we will give them time to work in their districts. But, conceivably, we could come back before the end of August recess and so some additional work.

REPORTER: For another hearing?


REPORTER: To Congresswoman Cheney and to Congressman Kinzinger, what do you say to Republicans who are now calling for you to be stripped of your committee assignments as a result of you serving on this committee through an appointment by Speaker Pelosi?

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): All I have to say to that is we had a big attack on January 6th. We heard very emotional testimony today, and that's what's on the forefront of my mind. And if people want to get petty, that's fine. I think that reflects more on people than it does on the situation at hand.

This is a historic moment and this is a democracy defending moment. And no matter the consequences, me, and I know Liz will stand and defend democracy. REPORTER: Last question. This morning Leader McCarthy and some of your colleagues were out in front of the Capitol. Their basic message boiling it down was what did Nancy Pelosi know and when did she know it. Some of your colleagues were down at the Justice Department or will be defending January 6th prisoners. What's your read on what other members of your conference are doing with their messaging today?

CHENEY: Look, almost every member of the Republican conference understood in the days immediately after January 6th what had actually happened, and many of them said so publicly. And the fact that so many members of our leadership and others, the fact that they've gone from recognizing what happened on the 6th to protesting in front of the Justice Department on behalf of those who were part of the insurrection is something that I can't explain.


I think it's a disgrace. And I know that this committee will be focused on getting to the truth of what happened in a nonpolitical, nonpartisan way. This is not a political campaign. This is deadly serious, and we'll investigate every aspect.

THOMPSON: Well, we've not set any additional hearings. We will be discussing over the next several days about what our August recess will look like. And at that point we'll announce it to the public.

REPORTER: Should Leader McConnell --

THOMPSON: Thank you.

TAPPER: All right. You were just listening to members of the select House committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol, the attempted insurrection. And they were talking about the way forward. I didn't hear much news there other than Liz Cheney saying that it was disgraceful, the reaction by so many Republicans in her party, obviously, trying to blame this on Speaker Pelosi, the attack, or the ones outside the Justice Department today protesting on behalf of the would-be insurrectionists, the violent terrorists who attacked the Capitol.

Before we broke into our coverage, our discussion to cover that, we were talking about very emotional testimony from Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, who was describing -- it's difficult to listen to. To put yourself in his shoes as a police officer who has dedicated his life to protecting the public and specifically the Capitol, difficult to listen to how he was greeted that day by members of this MAGA mob.

But I think it's important for us to hear it. So before we talk about it, let's play that clip again.


DUNN: That prompted a torrent of racial epithets. One woman in a pink MAGA shirt yelled, you hear that, guys? This nigger voted for Joe Biden. Then the crowd, perhaps around 20 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. In the days following the attempted insurrection, other black officers shared with me their own stories of racial abuse on January 6th. One officer told me he had never in his entire 40 years of life been called a nigger to his face, and that streak ended January 6.


TAPPER: Difficult to hear from a Capitol Police officer, and yet, we have been hearing accounts like that throughout first anonymously and then on the record from Capitol Police officers and Metropolitan Police officers.

Let's talk about it and former D.C. Police and Philadelphia Police Commissioner Ramsey, what was your reaction to hearing that?

RAMSEY: Well, this entire episode is something that clearly is leaving some pretty deep psychological wounds. I mean, when -- all these officers, the one common thread that you could see, aside from just the heroics and so forth is just how deeply this affected them.

I just hope that they're going to get the kind of support and help that they're going to really need to be able to recover from it. Because one officer, and I believe it was Dunn that mentioned he was going to EAP. Well, EAP is Employee Assistance Program. I don't -- they aren't really designed to deal with the kind of trauma that we're talking about here.

So I hope they reach out and get some professional help, because it's going to be a long time if ever that they're going to be able to really move on.

TAPPER: May I ask you a question because you are a black former police officer.


TAPPER: Were you surprised by that testimony? How did it affect you as a former law enforcement officer who is a black man?

RAMSEY: I wasn't surprised when I watched the video. Because with everything else going on in that video, I'm not surprised that ethnic slurs would be used. I mean, it's a shame to say it, but I wasn't surprised. I have not experienced that in uniform, and I spent 47 years in uniform and haven't had that happen where someone called me that to my face. Maybe behind my back, but certainly not to my face.

And I understand just how deeply -- here's a man who is fighting, all those officers are fighting just as hard as all the other officers to try to protect the people in the Capitol.


And then to be called, you know, that word, I mean, yes.

TAPPER: Laura, you're a former federal prosecutor. What was your reaction?

COATES: Well, I could not help -- first of all, I mean, I have a daily radio show. I've been called the N-word on air before talking about politics, nothing to do with race. The idea of it being a knee- jerk reaction for so many people, while that might be shocking to some, it remains hurtful but it's never quite surprising with the notion of race being just below the surface in America.

I will say I couldn't help but remember and think about and reminisce about the notion of what it was like for black soldiers coming back from World War II to confront racism in uniform. Some were lynched coming off the streets for the audacity to wear a uniform, top of mind in America.

I think it was so poignant, the idea of even the conversations surrounding Officer Gonell, the idea, the assumption that because of his brown skin, he was automatically not even American. They don't know that he was a naturalized citizen. They don't know his heritage or that he was a veteran. But the assumption was that he was an other, that he was not truly American.

And I want to put some context in it. What Officer Dunn was responding to was the big lie when he made the statement to say something political about who he voted for because someone said no one voted for Biden and that everyone voted for Trump and they were coming to stop the deal. And his reaction was to go outside of his normal apolitical self as an officer and say, well, I voted for Biden. Am I nobody? And the reaction, the knee-jerk was to attack, to vilify, to be vicious about this.

And that's why -- I hear you talk about this, that's why I found the comments from the Congressman Adam Kinzinger so poignant as well, to address the idea of just the way that race in America and theconfluence of politics was used as an excuse by some not to want to have even the bipartisan commission because there was not an investigation into the reaction to the killing, the murder of George Floyd last summer.

In his statement from the National Guard saying, I was called up from the National Guard, and I not once did I think the reaction to what I was seeing there was a threat to democracy, but this was. And that -- just the whole culmination of all that, Jake, it made my heart just drop and sink and rise and fall because you're seeing that none of this can be compartmentalized, not one of these aspects of it.

I just will end by saying what Officer Dunn said, I guess this is America too.

TAPPER: Yes. And let me bring in Terry Gainer, former Capitol Police Chief. One of the things that was also disturbing, and if we could get clip 14 ready, is that Daniel Hodges, who was one of the Metropolitan D.C. Police officers who testified today, who's white, he was treated differently by the crowd. And I'd like to run a clip 14 if we have that ready.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OFFICER DANIEL HODGES, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE: They didn't say anything especially xenophobic to me, but to my black colleagues and anyone who is not white. And they would -- some of them would try to recruit me. One of them came to me and said, are you my brother?

And there are many known organizations with ties to white supremacy that had a presence there, like Three Percenters, Oath Keepers, that kind of thing.

People who associate with Donald Trump, I find more likely to subscribe to that kind of belief system.


TAPPER: Chief Gainer, what was your reaction? I mean, that's a pretty jarring disparity there. You have these terrorists, these insurrectionists hurling racist epithets at the two officers of color who testified today, and yet, to one of the white officers, they were trying to, in his view, recruit him.

GAINER: Yes. I think it demonstrates the sickness of so many of the people who were in that crowd that they think they can divide any of us by either how we dress or whom we live with, or what color of our skin. And I think that goes right to the point that several of the officers made about what does America look like? I don't think it should look like that. I don't want it to look like that. But is that where we've come to?

So I think that was a powerful part of the statements that was coming out of all these officers. And knowing Officer Dunn, like I do, and you all know how the dome looks, for him to describe going up into that dome at the end of this fight, at the end of the day, and sit there with some fellow officers, some of whom were African-American, and shed a tear.