WASHINGTON — The House Select Committee to investigate the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 held its first hearing this week, in which four officers gave harrowing testimony about their experiences as they tried to fight back a riotous pro-Trump mob that tried to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election.
But other officers who defended Congress on Jan. 6 doubt that the new proceedings will protect them or the Capitol. BuzzFeed News spoke with a half dozen officers this week who did not testify on Tuesday, and few expressed any optimism.
“We’ve seen it all before,” one officer said. “I just hope something happens, you never know with this place,” said another. “I don’t think it’ll go anywhere because it’s happened before,” said a third.
One Capitol Police officer characterized Tuesday’s testimony as “interesting” but questioned the significance of more hearings, since Congress has already conducted several and produced a sprawling report on the insurrection.
“The question is whether it’ll go anywhere,'' said one Capitol Police officer, who talked to BuzzFeed News on the grounds of anonymity because officers are not authorized to talk to reporters. “There was a lot of talk. Most importantly, the American people know it wasn’t just a tour.”
The officer was referring to Republican Rep. Andrew Clyde, who said in May that rioters who walked through the Capitol Jan. 6 looked like “a normal tourist visit.” Clyde helped barricade the doors of the House chamber on the day rioters broke the window and tried to rush the House floor. He and other Republican lawmakers have since reversed course and tried to downplay Jan. 6.
Only two Republicans are serving on the Select Committee, after Senate Republicans blocked an earlier attempt to create an independent nonpartisan commission. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi nominated the two Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, for the committee after a dispute with House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy led to him pulling his nominees.
“They have collective amnesia,” one officer said of Republicans.
“These so-called law and order people who so-call love police are turning their back on what happened,” another officer said. “The very fact that Republicans refuse to participate in this is just damning.”
The Senate and House voted to pass a $2 billion supplemental bill on Thursday, which includes money to reinforce the Capitol. But some officers said temporary measures could have been put in place immediately following the attack.
One officer suggested an impenetrable glass structure to secure the speaker’s office. Another talked about adding a metal rod in front of the Capitol’s exterior-facing window shutters. During Tuesday’s hearing, Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell closed his testimony by saying “fortifying the Capitol” would help.
“The problem is the culture in this place,” one officer told BuzzFeed News. “You don't listen to historians and interior decorators when you’re trying to have security. You have to go through 15 committees to lock a door or move a table.”
A spokesperson for the Architect of the Capitol’s office did not immediately respond for comment on the officers’ concerns.
“All of the sensitive areas need to be protected before anybody comes back in this building. The idea of an open and secure building is blatantly stupid,” one officer said.
Others had complaints about the lack of communication between Capitol Police on the Senate and House sides and said the breakdowns contributed to gaps on Jan. 6.
“There is no unified policy between the bodies,” one of the officers said.
The officer was not holding out hope for something to change now because of the committee.
“We had two impeachments and nothing came of it,” they added. “If you can have presidential impeachments and nothing comes of it, this hearing is par for the course.”