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Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell condemned former President Trump's false claims that the Jan. 6 rioters were "hugging and kissing" officers when they invaded the Capitol, calling it a "pathetic excuse" for the fact that he "helped to create this monstrosity.

Why it matters: Gonell is one of four police officers who testified at the first hearing of the Jan. 6 select committee on Tuesday. He recounted the surgery he was forced to undergo due to injuries sustained from the attack, and described how that day made him "more afraid" than his entire U.S. Army deployment to Iraq.

Catch up quick: Trump falsely claimed to Fox News’ Laura Ingraham in March that the rioters posed "zero threat," saying: "Look, they went in — they shouldn’t have done it — some of them went in, and they’re hugging and kissing the police and the guards, you know? They had great relationships."

  • He later told Washington Post reporters that the crowd he spoke to at the rally before the Capitol siege began was "loving."
  • Trump has continued his attempts to change the narrative around Jan. 6 in the months since the attack, issuing a statement Tuesday morning before the hearing that falsely suggested Antifa and Black Lives Matter played a role.

What they're saying: Asked by Rep. Liz Cheney how he felt about Trump calling the crowd "loving," Gonell responded, "I'm still recovering from those 'hugs and kisses' that day that he claimed that so many rioters, terrorists, were assaulting us with."

  • "If that was hugs and kisses, then we should all go to his house and do the same thing to him," he continued.
  • "It was not Antifa, it was not Black Lives Matter, it was not the FBI. It was his supporters that he sent them over to the Capitol that day."

Gonell later denounced officials who referred to the rioters as "tourists," saying that he had given tours to thousands of people but had never been attacked.

  • Lawmakers are "defending the indefensible. And you're demoralizing not just the rank and file, but the future, the future recruits that we are trying to get," he said.
  • "What do you think people considering becoming law enforcement officers think when they see elected leaders downplaying this? Why would I risk my life for them when they don't even care?"

Capitol police officer Harry Dunn said that this was not the first time that Trump supporters went to the Capitol to protest, but it was the first time they turned this violent: "There were some skirmishes, but never the attempt to overthrow democracy."

  • He said that rioters had "marching orders," suggesting that that's the reason why they became so violent.

Go deeper

U.S. Capitol Police arrest man with machete, bayonet near DNC headquarters

Photo: U.S. Capitol Police

The U.S. Capitol Police said Monday it arrested a California man armed with multiple knives outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington.

The big picture: The arrest occurred just days before a Sept. 18 rally planned in support of individuals arrested for storming the Capitol on Jan. 6. The USCP said it is "closely monitoring" the event, which is known as "Justice for J6."

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The debt ceiling stare down

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congress is fast approaching its deadline to raise the debt ceiling or risk defaulting on the nation's debt, and, as of now, there's no serious plan to stave off what many members are calling the worst-case scenario.

Why it matters: The U.S. has never defaulted on its debt. If Congress doesn't take "extraordinary measures" to finance the government, it would "likely cause irreparable damage to the U.S. economy and global financial markets," Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned last week.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

White House fights for extra IRS funding

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Biden administration is aggressively defending its plan to invest $80 billion in the IRS to bring in an estimated $700 billion in new revenue, a memo obtained by Axios shows.

Why it matters: President Biden and his team view tax enforcement as one of the most politically palatable ways to help pay for their new spending plans, from universal preschool to free community college — especially in light of Republican criticism.