Police Who Defended U.S. Capitol On Jan. 6 Slam Trump For Defending Insurrectionists

“He can't claim to support law and order and at the same time support those who tried to upend our democracy,” said former Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell.

Police officers injured on Jan. 6, 2021, harshly criticized former President Donald Trump for lionizing rioters convicted of attacking the Capitol that day.

Appearing at a news conference Monday hosted by President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign, former Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell and D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges questioned Trump’s focus on “law and order” given his vow to pardon people convicted of storming the U.S. Capitol, some of whom assaulted police officers.

“He can’t claim to support law and order and at the same time support those who tried to upend our democracy,” Gonell said at the event, which was held at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington. “He can’t claim to support law and order and stand at attention saluting the American flag while they play a modified national anthem written by a convicted felon who attacked my co-workers. That’s not leadership; that’s betrayal.”

Hodges called Trump’s salute of a song recorded by Jan. 6 convicts “absolutely mind-blowing,” adding that “you can’t claim to be on our side and then promise pardons for violent insurrectionists who assaulted me and my colleagues.”

Over the weekend, Trump, the presumptive 2024 GOP presidential nominee, posted a video on social media that contained the image of a hog-tied Biden painted on the tailgate of a pickup truck. The Biden campaign slammed Trump over the video, saying he had suggested physical harm to the president.

“It’s not the first time and sadly it will not be the last time that Donald Trump chooses to traffic in violence,” Biden campaign spokesman Michael Tyler said at the news conference. “Political violence has been and continues to be central to Donald Trump’s brand of politics.”

Monday’s news conference reflected the Biden campaign’s broader strategy of highlighting Trump’s authoritarian tendencies and his unapologetic embrace of Jan. 6 rioters, whom Trump has praised as “unbelievable patriots.”

Gonell and Hodges have been outspoken critics of Trump for his role on Jan. 6 and of Republicans for “whitewashing” the day’s events, as Gonell has said.

“As a police officer defending the Capitol, I fought off the mob of Trump supporters in what resembled a medieval battle,” Gonell wrote in January, saying he wound up needing surgery for injuries that led to his retirement in 2022. “It’s infuriating to still hear some of the people I protected spewing conspiracy theories.”

He also holds Trump responsible for the injuries he suffered during the riot.

“Our own president set us up,” Gonnell told HuffPost in 2022.

Trump’s affinity for violent rhetoric and his verbal attacks against a federal judge overseeing his criminal case in New York, including against the judge’s daughter, have also raised alarms in Congress and in the judiciary. Last week, another sitting federal judge from Washington harshly criticized Trump’s attacks against his New York colleague in a live cable news interview, something that active members of the judiciary rarely do.

“It’s very disconcerting to have someone making comments about a judge, and it’s particularly problematic when those comments are in the form of a threat, especially if they’re directed at one’s family,” U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins.

“We do these jobs because we’re committed to the rule of law and we believe in the rule of law, and the rule of law can only function effectively when we have judges who are prepared to carry out their duties without the threat of potential physical harm,” he added.

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