The supporters of president Donald Trump who stormed the US Capitol had “clear plans to disrupt democracy,” senior Democrat Bennie Thompson said Tuesday as he opened a congressional inquiry into the January 6 attack.
“We know there is evidence of a coordinated planned attack. We know that the men and women who stormed the Capitol wanted to derail the peaceful transfer of power in this country,” said Thompson.
Thompson opened the hearing of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack with hair-raising videos of the violent attack on Capitol Police by hundreds of armed Trump backers.
Thompson, chairman of the committee, said the attack was the most violent since the British assailed the US legislature in 1814.
Representative Liz Cheney, the senior Republican on the committee and an outspoken critic of Trump, warned fellow Republicans against attempts to “whitewash” and “cover up” the reality of the attack.
“American people deserve the full and open testimony of every person with knowledge of the planning and preparation for January 6,” Cheney said.
“We must know what happened here at the Capitol. We must also know what happened, every minute of that day in the White House.”
Cheney, one of a small group of Republicans who supported the hearings, said the assault on the Capitol cannot go uninvestigated.
“If Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our constitutional republic,” she said.
“We will face the threat of more violence in the months to come, and another January 6 every four years.”
The hearing opened with the emotional testimony from Capitol Police officer Aquilino Gonell, a US Army Iraq combat veteran who was battered and injured by armed attackers during the hours-long January 6 assault.
“In Iraq, we expected armed violence, because we were in a war zone. Nothing in my experience in the army or as a law enforcement officer prepared me for what we confronted on January 6,” he told the committee.