Capitol riot committee holds first hearing

By Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha, Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner, Maureen Chowdhury and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 7:48 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021
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1:44 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

DC police officer explains why he is referring to the Jan. 6 rioters as "terrorists"

Washington Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges watches footage from his body camera during the House select committee hearing on Tuesday, July 27.
Washington Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges watches footage from his body camera during the House select committee hearing on Tuesday, July 27. Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool/AP

Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin asked DC police officer Daniel Hodges about why he is repeatedly referring to the Jan. 6 rioters as "terrorists" during his hearing testimony today.

Raskin said, "Officer Hodges, I read your testimony carefully. I hope every American reads your testimony. But I noted that you referred to 'terrorists' or 'terrorism' 15 different times to describe the people" who seized the Capitol. Raskin noted that some of colleagues have been calling the violent insurrectionists "not terrorists, but 'tourists.'" 

"Well, if that is what American tourists are like, I can see why foreign countries don't like American tourists," Hodges responded, getting some laughs from the hearing room.

He said he can see why someone would take issue with the title of "terrorist" since "it's gained a lot of notoriety in our vocabulary in the past few decades." But, he said, he came "prepared" to explain why he uses the term to describe the rioters. Hodges then recited how US criminal codes describe "domestic terrorism."

"U.S. Code title 18 part 1 chapter 1.1.3, B as in brown, section The term domestic terrorism means activities that involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any state and B, appeared to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, or to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping and occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States." 

Some more context: Some Republicans have tried to paint the events of Jan. 6 as mostly peaceful except for a few bad apples. Rep. Andrew Clyde, a Republican from Georgia, made one of the most egregious comparisons to downplay the riot, suggesting many members of the mob looked like regular tourists.

In a May Congressional hearing, Clyde claimed the attack looked like a "normal tourist visit."

“Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes taking videos and pictures. You know, if you didn't know the TV footage was a video from January the sixth, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit,” he said.

Clyde is referring to one moment after the rioters broke into the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall. Other footage of Jan. 6, however, shows rioters beating a police officer with a flagpole, as well as using police shields to smash through windows and clambering over the Capitol walls — not typical tourist behavior.

12:54 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Rioters who still "think they were right" is a "scary recipe" for the future, Capitol police officer says

Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, at right, watches a video during the House select committee hearing on the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, July 27.
Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, at right, watches a video during the House select committee hearing on the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, July 27. Oliver Contreras/The New York Times/Pool/AP

Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn said that Jan. 6 rioters had "marching orders" that led to violence during the insurrection.

Dunn, who had racial slurs thrown at him by rioters, said that Trump supporters had been to Washington, DC, in large numbers before, but Jan. 6 was different.

"There were some skirmishes, but never the attempt to overthrow democracy. I they this was maybe their second or third time that they had came up on Jan. 6. And even then, as belligerent as they were, it didn't account to this violence. So the only difference that I see in that is that they had marching orders, so to say," Dunn said.

"When people feel emboldened by people in power, they assume they're right. Like, one of the scariest things about Jan. 6 is that the people that were there, even to this day, think they were right. They think they were right. And that makes for a scary recipe for the future of this country. I think that's why it's important that you all take this committee seriously and get to the bottom of why this happened and let's make it never happen again," Dunn added.

Some more background: In December 2020, several people were stabbed and more than 30 were arrested during clashes between "Stop the Steal" protesters and counterprotesters. In November 2020, there were also skirmishes between anti-Trump protesters and Trump supporters, which resulted in at least 20 arrests.

1:00 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Cheney tweets thanks to officers: "Their heroism will never be forgotten"

From CNN's Sarah Fortinsky 

Rep. Liz Cheney just tweeted out a video of the four officers who were attacked on Jan. 6 testifying at the House select committee today and thanked them, writing, "Their heroism will never be forgotten."

"Thank you to Officer Fanone and Officer Hodges of the @DCPoliceDept & Private First Class Dunn and Sergeant Gonell of @CapitolPolice for their bravery," Cheney wrote. "Their heroism will never be forgotten."

"We must get to the truth and ensure that what happened on Jan. 6th never happens again."

Cheney is one of two lone Republicans on the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Earlier in the hearing, she delivered opening remarks, calling on Congress to act responsibly.

She said that the committee must learn "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. 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," she said.

12:44 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Officer Hodges: People with ties to White supremacists were at the Capitol and tried to recruit me

Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges watches video from his body camera during the House select committee hearing on the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, July 27.
Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges watches video from his body camera during the House select committee hearing on the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, July 27. Andrew Harnik/Pool/AP

Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges told committee members that the rioters he encountered were "overwhelmingly White males" that vocalized White nationalist sentiments.

"The crowd was overwhelmingly White males, usually a little bit older, middle aged, older, but some younger. I think out of the entire time I was there I saw just two women and two Asian males. Everyone else was White males. They didn't say anything especially xenophobic to me but to my Black colleagues and to anyone who is not White," Hodges described to committee members.

Hodges said that some tried to recruit him to their cause, "Some of them would try to recruit me. One came and said, 'Are you my brother?'"

Hodges explained how there are many known organizations with ties to White supremacy that had a presence at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, including The Oath Keepers.

"Everyone I've ever — people who associate with Donald Trump are, I find, more likely to prescribe to that kind of belief system," Hodges said.

2:27 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Lawmaker says she was able to hug her children again because of the officers' actions on Jan. 6

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Rep. Stephanie Murphy speaks during a hearing by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, July 27.
Rep. Stephanie Murphy speaks during a hearing by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, July 27. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat from Florida, said the reason she was able to hug her children again after the Jan. 6 insurrection was because of the heroic actions of the officers testifying today, specifically DC Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges.

Hodges is seen in video footage holding a door with his body, preventing rioters from going further into the building. Murphy said she was in a small office with Rep. Kathleen Rice, a Democrat from New York, about 40 feet away from where the officers were.

"We had taken refuge in that office because we thought for sure being in the basement at the heart of the Capitol was the safest place we could be, and it turned out we ended up at the center of the storm," Murphy said.

The congresswoman said officers, like Hodges, prevented a tragic situation from becoming even more tragic. While officer Hodges was holding the door, Murphy said other officers were able to get her and Rice out of the office and down the hallway safely.

"Imagine if they had caught the two members of Congress that were just 40 feet from where you all were," she said.

"I think it's important for everybody, though, to remember that the main reason rioters didn't harm any members of Congress was because they didn't encounter any members of Congress," Murphy added.

She said she could hear officers yelling and struggling to breathe down the hall. During the hearing, Murphy thanked the officers for protecting her.

"I have a 10-year-old son and a 7-year-old daughter, and they're the light of my life. And the reason I was able to hug them again was because of the courage that you and your fellow officers showed that day, and so just a really heart felt thank you," she said.

When Murphy asked officer Hodges what he was fighting for that day, he said, "democracy."

"It was for democracy. It was for men and women of the House and Senate, it was for each other, and it was for the future of the country," Hodges said.
12:38 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Justice Department has charged more than 550 people in Capitol insurrection

From CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz and Marshall Cohen

The Justice Department has now charged more than 550 people in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to CNN’s latest tally.

The criminal investigation reached this milestone while police officers who defended the Capitol testified before the House select committee probing the attack.

1:07 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Fact check: Republicans continue to falsely blame Pelosi for certain Jan. 6 security failures

From CNN's Holmes Lybrand and Tara Subramaniam

An hour and a half before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol was set to convene for its first hearing, House Republicans held a news conference Tuesday morning fighting against the hearing, focusing specifically on criticizing Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

During the news conference several prominent Republicans promoted the false narrative that Pelosi was solely responsible for the security on Jan. 6.

“There’s questions into the leadership within the structure of the speaker’s office, where they denied the ability to bring the National Guard here,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said. 

House Republican Whip Steve Scalise said there were questions “about why Speaker Pelosi didn’t make sure that Capitol Police had all the tools they needed to be prepared for that day.” 

Rep. Elise Stefanik, the number three Republican in the House, said “Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility, as Speaker of the House, for the tragedy that occurred on Jan. 6.” 

Facts First: The Speaker of the House is not in charge of Capitol security. That's the responsibility of the Capitol Police Board, which oversees the US Capitol Police and approves requests for National Guard assistance.

Jane L. Campbell, president and CEO of the US Capitol Historical Society, told CNN that "the Speaker of the House does not oversee security of the US Capitol, nor does this official oversee the Capitol Police Board."

Pelosi also cannot unduly influence who is appointed to the Board, which consists of the House and Senate Sergeants at Arms, the Architect of the Capitol and the Chief of the Capitol Police.

The Sergeants at Arms are elected and must be confirmed by their respective chambers and the Architect must be confirmed by both chambers of Congress. And according to testimony from the former Capitol Police chief Steven Sund, Pelosi was not involved in the decisions made ahead of Jan. 6 regarding the National Guard. In his testimony before the Senate in February, former US Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said that he approached both Sergeants at Arms on the House and Senate side on Jan. 4 to request the National Guard through an Emergency Declaration from the Capitol Police Board.

His request, according to Sund, was not approved. Instead, the Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael C. Stenger "suggested I ask (the National Guard) how quickly we could get support if needed and to 'lean forward' in case we had to request assistance on January 6," according to Sund's testimony.

Following the events of Jan. 6, the US Capitol Police announced it was working "with Congressional oversight and the Capitol Police Board to obtain the authority to immediately request National Guard assistance if needed without having to wait for board approval."

12:33 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Here's what we know about the pipe bombs found on Jan. 6

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

The pipe bombs found at the Democratic and Republican party headquarters – which are among the most frightening parts of Jan. 6 – are still a mystery.

The bombs were discovered within minutes of each other around 1 p.m. ET on Jan. 6, just around the time that a mob of angry supporters of President Trump descended on the building after a nearby rally with the President, according to an account the acting chief of the US Capitol gave to lawmakers.

Authorities said the bombs were real and that they were placed there one night before the Capitol was stormed. Back in March, the FBI released new security footage of the person they believe placed the bombs outside the RNC and DNC headquarters. Even with the new videos, there still haven’t been any arrests in the case. 

In hopes of breaking open the case, the FBI offered a $50,000 reward in January, and later increased the reward to $100,000.

12:31 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Rioters called police sergeant and veteran "not even American" because of his race, he says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Oliver Contreras/Pool/Getty Images
Oliver Contreras/Pool/Getty Images

Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell said that some rioters on Jan. 6 said he wasn't American because of his race.

"I was in the front lines, and they apparently [saw] even through my mask, they saw my skin color and said 'you're not even American,'" Gonell said.

Gonell said those statements to him didn't sink in at the time. "It takes time for you to process that," he said.

"I know I'm an American...former soldier and a police officer. I didn't take that into account when I was defending all of you guys," Gonell said before lawmakers on the House select committee.