Jan. 6 officer: Republicans would "keep us from protecting the Capitol" if Trump tries another coup

An officer from Jan. 6 warns: If Trump attempts another coup, Republicans might hinder Capitol protection.

On January 6, 2021, then-President Donald Trump and his associates orchestrated an attempted coup. At the heart of this effort was an attack by his MAGA supporters on the Capitol, aiming to halt the election certification and retain his hold on power. Witnesses and Trump's own actions and statements reveal his desire to lead a march on the Capitol akin to a conquering authoritarian. Following an extended clash, Trump's supporters breached the Capitol, resulting in the tragic deaths of five police officers and injuries to 138 others in this terrorist attack. In many respects, January 6 served as a test and validation for future coup attempts by neofascist groups and their allies within the United States.

These facts stand undisputed.

Watch: Trump echoes Hitler and MAGA hears it loud and clear

In her work 'The Origins of Totalitarianism,' Hannah Arendt issued a warning:

The result of a consistent and total substitution of lies for factual truth is not that the lie will now be accepted as truth, and truth be defamed as lie, but that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world - and the category of truth versus falsehood is among the mental means to this end - is being destroyed.

Up until now, Trump, his MAGA supporters, certain Republican figures, and their spokespersons have been engaged in a deliberate rewriting of the events of January 6 (and broader American history) as part of their false narrative surrounding the 2020 Election. For instance, Speaker Mike Johnson has directed the blurring of faces in video footage capturing Trump's MAGA supporters during the January 6 attack. This move aims to shield them from potential prosecution by the Department of Justice for their actions on that day.

Capitol Hill police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell valiantly defended the Capitol against the attack orchestrated by Trump's MAGA supporters on January 6. As a frontline witness to that historic event, he bears the enduring physical and emotional scars, carrying the trauma from that day for a lifetime. A Dominican immigrant, former U.S. Army soldier, and veteran of the Iraq War, Gonell has served as a Capitol Hill police officer for 17 years. He was among the four officers who provided testimony before the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection of January 6. Gonell's accounts have been prominently featured in various media outlets, including The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, NPR, CBS Mornings, NBC News, Fox-TV, MSNBC, The Daily Beast, The Hill, and Rolling Stone.

Sergeant Gonell, along with co-author Susan Shapiro, presents 'American Shield: The Immigrant Sergeant Who Defended Democracy' in his new book.

In the discussion, Gonell recounts the unsettling experience of witnessing the same Congressional Republicans, whose lives he and fellow Capitol Police protected on January 6, now aligning with Trump and his attempted coup. He expresses his deep dismay at the glorification of the January 6 attackers as "heroes," "patriots," or even "political prisoners" by Trump and other neofascist figures. Gonell emphasizes the genuine risk he and his colleagues would face if Trump were to regain power in 2025.

As our conversation concludes, Gonell earnestly urges Trump's supporters to recognize the ex-president as a self-serving and hazardous individual who disregards their well-being, prioritizing power and personal ego above all else.

Please note, this interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

How are you feeling given all that happened on Jan. 6 and your journey so far?

I'm managing alright given all I've been through since January 6. I've made significant progress in treating my physical and mental injuries, but it's an ongoing process for me. I'm still engaged in investigations, attending trials, and providing victim statements and testimony in court.

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