It’s been almost a year since the Jan. 6 riot, when violent Trump supporters, whipped up by the outgoing president and his lies about a stolen election, stormed the Capitol building, hoping to overturn a free and fair election. One of their targets was Mike Pence, whom some of them wanted to hang. Did almost getting murdered cause the former vice president to turn on Trump, even as he’s continued to defend their actions? Absolutely not. But his continued, baffling downplaying of that fateful day has not gone unnoticed by those who helped save his life.
As per Insider, Pence went on the Christian Broadcasting Network, where he yet again tried to write off the day he was nearly killed as just like any other, all while slamming Democrats.
“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,” Pence told the network. “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.”
Pence’s comments didn’t sit well with Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell, one of many officers who fought back against violent Trump supporters that day. He suffered both physical injuries and emotional trauma; on top of going to therapy, he’s unable to raise his left arm. So when he spoke with NPR, Gonell did not go lightly on Pence’s comments
“That one day in January almost cost my life,” Gonell said. “And we did everything possible to prevent him 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 added, “He swore an oath to the country, not to Donald Trump.”
Gonell also came for the Republican lawmakers who, after the siege, went ahead and voted against certifying the 2020 election, effectively condoning the actions of the deadly mob.
“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 said. “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.”
Gonell added: “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 off so they could have a chance to escape to safety.”
Gonell was one of the Capitol officers who testified before the House back in July, describing the scene as a “medieval battleground” and telling lawmakers, “To be honest, I did not recognize my fellow citizens that day, or the United States they claimed to represent.”
Trump, meanwhile, still claims that his speech that day, which ended with supporters attacking police officers, was “extremely calming.” But at least Pence’s former staff are more horrified by what happened than he is.