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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

Former lawmakers seek to block Trump's efforts to shield Jan. 6 records

Protesters storm the Capitol and halt a joint session of the 117th Congress on Jan. 6. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

More than 60 former lawmakers have signed on to a legal brief asking a federal judge to dismiss former President Trump's attempts to shield Jan. 6 investigators from probing his White House records, Politico reports.

Driving the news: The brief, signed by 66 lawmakers, including 24 Republicans and 42 Democrats, argues that Trump "played an outsized — and likely central — role in orchestrating the events that gave rise to the January 6th attack."

Trump seeks to shield call logs, staff notes from Jan. 6 investigators

President Trump speaks during a "Save America Rally" near the White House on Jan. 6. Photo: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former President Trump is seeking to block the release of documents that include call logs, speeches and notes from his staff in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, a court filing revealed Saturday.

Driving the news: The 45th president has filed suit to shield through executive privilege more than 750 pages of documents that have been identified by officials as relevant to the House select committee's Jan. 6 investigation, including records from Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former senior adviser Stephen Miller and former deputy counsel Patrick Philbin.

Ina Fried, author of Login
32 mins ago - Technology
Column / Signal Boost

Exclusive: Meta's civil rights chief aims to "turn the knob" for good

Photo Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Meta

A year ago, Facebook brought in Roy Austin, Jr. to lead a new team focused on civil rights. Since then, he has assembled a squad of experts advising parent company Meta on everything from voting rights to hate speech to ensuring new products don't have discriminatory impact.

The big picture: Austin's team of nine must tackle those tough issues inside a company of nearly 70,000 employees serving more than 3 billion users around the world.