Former Vice President Mike Pence and Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell.
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images
- Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell told NPR that Pence’s minimization of January 6 is a ‘disgrace.’
- “We did everything possible to prevent him from being hanged and killed in front of his daughter and his wife,” he said.
- Pence recently said that ‘one tragic day in January’ was being used to demean Trump supporters.
Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell called former Vice President Mike Pence’s recent minimization of January 6 a “disgrace” and “pathetic” in an interview with NPR.
Gonell, who helped defend the US Capitol against a mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump as a joint session of Congress met to count the country’s electoral votes, spoke about the troubles he’s dealt with in the year since the attack. That includes ongoing therapy for his mental health, injuries that prevent him from raising his left arm, and enduring emotional trauma.
Gonell, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, criticized the recent remarks by the former vice president whom he had helped defend that day.
Pence, speaking with the Christian Broadcasting Network recently, referred to the assault on the Capitol as “one tragic day in January,” a description that the former vice president has used more than once.
“I’m not going to allow the Democrats or the national media to use one tragic day in January to demean the intentions of 74 million people who stood with us in our cause,” said Pence. “And I’m not going to allow the Democrats to use one tragic day in January to distract attention from their failed agenda and the failed policies of the Biden Administration. We’re going to focus on the future.”
That’s despite the fact that several rioters were heard chanting “Hang Mike Pence” as they stormed the Capitol building. Trump later defended those calls in a March interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl, saying that they were “common sense” and that “well, the people were very angry.”
Asked about Pence’s comments about January 6, Gonell criticized the former vice president.
“That one day in January almost cost my life,” Gonell told NPR. “And we did everything possible to prevent him [Pence] from being hanged and killed in front of his daughter and his wife. And now he’s telling us that that one day in January doesn’t mean anything. It’s pathetic. It’s a disgrace.”
“He swore an oath to the country, not to Donald Trump,” Gonell added.
Without naming anyone, the officer also criticized members of Congress that voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election results, as well as those that had downplayed the attack.
“We risked our lives to give them enough time to get to safety. And allegedly, some of them were in communication with some of the rioters and with some of the coordinators or in the know of what would happen,” Gonell told NPR. “And it makes you question their motives and their loyalty for the country, as we were battling the mob in a brutal battle where I could have lost my life and my dear fellow officers, as well.”
“They’re telling us, ‘Oh, it wasn’t that bad.’ It was that bad when they were running for their lives. It was that bad when we were struggling to hold them [the rioters] off so they could have a chance to escape to safety,” he also said.
Gonell previously testified before the House Select Committee investigating January 6 in July, detailing the “horrific and devastating” violence he experienced on the west entrance to the Capitol, which he called a “medieval battleground.”
“To be honest, I did not recognize my fellow citizens that day, or the United States they claimed to represent,” Gonell said in July.
—NBC News (@NBCNews) July 27, 2021