Capitol Police officer rejects Trump’s claim about ‘loving crowd’ of rioters: ‘I’m still recovering from those hugs and kisses that day’

U.S. Capitol Police officer Aquilino Gonell
U.S. Capitol Police officer Aquilino Gonell wipes his eye as he watches a video being displayed during a House select committee hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 27, 2021. Jim Bourg/Pool via AP)
  • A Capitol Police officer called Trump “pathetic” for claiming insurrectionists were a loving crowd.
  • “I’m still recovering from those hugs and kisses that day,” said Officer Aquilino Gonell.
  • He added that Trump’s comments were “insulting” and “demoralizing” and that he sacrificed the country “for his ego.”
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Capitol Police Officer Aquinilo Gonell on Tuesday said it was “pathetic” that former President Donald Trump claimed the rioters who stormed the Capitol on January 6 were a “loving crowd.”

Gonell was one of four witnesses who testified at the first hearing for the special committee Congress created to investigate the deadly insurrection.

At one point, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who is one of two Republicans serving on the committee, asked Gonell what he thought about former President Donald Trump’s claim that there was “a lot of love” among rioters who stormed the Capitol.

“When you think about that and share with us the vivid memory of the cruelty and the violence of the assault that day and then you hear former President Trump say, quote, ‘It was a loving crowd. There was a lot of love in the crowd,’ How does that make you feel?” Cheney asked.

“It’s upsetting,” Gonell said. “It’s a pathetic excuse for his behavior, for something that he himself helped to create, this monstrosity.”

“I’m still recovering from those hugs and kisses that day,” he continued. “If that was hugs and kisses, then we should all go to his house and do the same thing to him. To me, it’s insulting, it’s demoralizing because everything that we did was to prevent everyone in the Capitol from getting hurt. And what he was doing instead of sending the military, instead of sending the support, or telling his people, his supporters to stop this nonsense, he egged them to continue fighting.”

Gonell added that all the insurrectionists he encountered “were telling us, ‘Trump sent us.’ Nobody else – it was nobody else, it was not antifa, it was not Black Lives Matter, it was not the FBI. It was his supporters that he sent over to the Capitol that day.”

Trump “could have done a lot of things,” Gonell said, including telling the rioters to stop.

“He talks about sacrifices,” but “the only thing he has sacrificed is the institutions of the country, and the country itself only for his ego,” Gonell said. “He wants the job, but he doesn’t want to do the job. And that’s a shame on him.”

The officer later walked back his remarks and apologized for the “outburst.”

“By no means was I suggesting that we all go to his house,” he said.

Along with Gonell, Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn and Metropolitan Police officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges also gave jarring and emotionally charged testimony recounting their experiences defending the Capitol on January 6.

Dunn choked up as he recalled being called a “f—ing n—–” by the Trump supporters who stormed the building, and Fanone was on the verge of tears while describing how he told rioters that he had kids while begging them to stop the onslaught.

Hodges’ struggle with the insurrectionists was caught on video, and the harrowing footage showed him being crushed in a doorway between the rioters and police officers who were trying to hold the line.

The officer said he remembered foaming at the mouth while being crushed and as rioters tried to rip his helmet off.

“I did the only thing I could do, scream for help,” Hodges said.