Finally. After only half a year, someone in government thought it was a good idea to investigate why a mob of insurrectionists broke into the U.S. Capitol and tried to overthrow the government. I understand that the Republican Party isn’t as represented on the House Committee as they wanted to be – but that was by their choice, considered that they also previously turned down the option of having a non-partisan blue-ribbon panel investigate. But then, if my party’s leader and many of its leading officials helped incite the insurrection, I might not want it investigated either, assuming I was okay with it and with democracy.
I didn’t see all of the first day’s hearing, but saw a fair amount, as well as a lot of coverage after the fact. However, I only watched a few seconds of the new footage because a) for my sensibilities, it was too ghoulish to take, and b) I already knew how horrifically violent it was because seeing how even more violent..
I thought Officer Michael Fantone was especially moving in this statement, particularly when he got so emotional that he pounded the table when about the members of Congress he was protecting that day who have dismissed the violence as being peaceful, and like visiting tourists or that maybe it didn’t even happen.
"What makes the struggle harder and more painful is to know so many of my fellow citizens, including so many of the people I put my life at risk to defend, are downplaying or outright denying what happened," Officer Fantone said. "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!" he said, slamming the table with explosive emotion. "My law enforcement career prepared me to cope with some of the aspects of this experience. Being an officer, you know your life is at risk whenever you walk out the door, even if you don't expect otherwise law-abiding citizens to take up arms against you. But nothing — truly nothing — has prepared me to address those elected members of our government who continue to deny the events of that day, and in doing so, betray their oath of office. Those very members whose lives, offices, staff members I was fighting so desperately to defend."
He was impressive throughout. If you missed his full presentation, this is what I mean –
The officers’ bluntness in not just blaming those in power, but being fairly specific about it was pointed and excellent. It’s one thing to hear that from Democrats in Congress, but it’s on another level hearing it from the officers themselves. This was most driven home impactfully when one of the officers noted how you don’t just go after the hitman, but the one who hired the hitman. You knew who he was talking about because you knew that he knew who he was talking about. The “hitman” illusion was visceral.
Visceral too was the emotion, almost to tears, of several of those Congressmen on the committee, in particular Democrat Adam Schiff and Republican Adam Kinzinger.
From what I saw, two other moments stood out.
The first was that I loved that Jamie Raskin asked the officers if they felt the insurrection was old history. And that we should just move on, as many Republicans have suggested and likely wish. And their answers were all eloquent –ranging from a simple and direct “No” to more detailed, controlled fury.
And the other came after Officer Daniel Hodges had referred to the insurrectionists as “terrorists.” Rep. Raskin asked him about his using that word. I absolutely loved when Hodges said that he knew that some people would be bothered bit it, “So,” he continued, “I came prepared.”
And boy, did he ever. He pulled out a document and cited the U.S. code which lays out in detailed specifics what the law says constitutes a terrorist.
And it described the insurrections to a T. And the hitmen who hired them.
But of course, this was only Day One. I look forward in the days and weeks ahead who they are going to subpoena. Perhaps even some of those who hired the hitmen.
Somewhat related to this, I was very glad to see that the House's General Counsel's Office will not represent Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) in the lawsuit filed against him by Rep. Eric Swalwell for inciting the riot. The Counsel’s Office says the suit "does not challenge any institutional action of the House or any of its component entities."
Perhaps we may find out that inciting an insurrection, as well as attempting to carry one out was not really a good idea after all.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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