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Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Feb. 28, 2024

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Jayne: Listen to Capitol officers’ account

By , Columbian Opinion Page Editor

This is what Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler doesn’t think we should hear:

“I was effectively defenseless, and gradually sustaining injury from the increasing pressure of the mob. Directly in front of me, a man seized the opportunity of my vulnerability, grabbed the front of my gas mask, and used it to beat my head against the door. He switched to pulling it off my head, the strap stretching against my skull and straining my neck. He never uttered any words I recognized, but opted instead for guttural screams.”

Those are the words of Washington, D.C., police Officer Daniel Hodges as he testified Tuesday in front of a House Select Committee. The committee is investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, but Herrera Beutler doesn’t think we should hear that.

“When my blood is red, I’m an American citizen. I’m not a police officer. I’m a peace officer. I’m here to defend this country, defend everybody in this building.”

Those are the words of Harry Dunn, a U.S. Capitol police officer. Dunn, who is Black, said he was verbally assaulted with racial slurs from rioters denouncing Black Lives Matter. But Herrera Beutler doesn’t want us to know that.

“All of them — all of them were telling us, ‘Trump sent us.’ ”

Those are the words of Aquilino A. Gonell, a U.S. Capitol Police sergeant. But Herrera Beutler would prefer that he keep it to himself.

Indeed, the committee convened by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a partisan endeavor. Herrera Beutler pointed that out last month in decrying the formation of the committee and saying she would not serve on it if asked.

But as Republicans attempt to obscure and obfuscate the events of Jan. 6, as they attempt to befuddle and bewilder the American public, they continually put party before country.

Democrats in Congress sought a bipartisan commission to investigate the riot at the Capitol, and Republicans blocked it; now those Republicans complain that the commission is partisan. It is shameful subterfuge, akin to complaining about the outcome of a game when your team refuses to play.

Prior to formation of the committee, Herrera Beutler had stood on the side of truth. She rightly voted to impeach Trump; she voted against removing Rep. Liz Cheney from a party leadership role for having the temerity to say Joe Biden won the election; and she voted in favor of a bipartisan commission to investigate the insurrection.

All of that earned her a rebuke from some in her party, and it put her in a difficult political position. But the truth remains the truth, regardless of party affiliation, and the least we should expect from elected representatives is a desire to find that truth.

Instead, when Republicans blocked the commission and left Democrats with no choice but to unilaterally launch an investigation, Herrera Beutler retreated into a bunker of cowardice.

Now, Republican leaders are left to absurdly blame Pelosi for the riot and to say that the terrorists were “peaceful” and nothing more than “tourists.” Right-wing media is left to pretend that the attack wasn’t all that bad and to largely ignore the committee hearings. And the wingnuts in the Republican Party are left to concoct increasingly outlandish conspiracy theories.

Michael Fanone likely would take issue with that strategy. The D.C. officer is recovering from a concussion, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and a heart attack incurred during the riot, and he told the committee:

“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. … They beat me. I was struck with a taser device at the base of my skull numerous times. And they continued to do so, until I yelled out that I have kids.”

Jaime Herrera Beutler should try giving him a listen. So should the rest of us.