Biden campaign, Jan. 6 officers decry Trump use of ‘political violence’ in post of video

Left to right, former D.C. Metropolitan Police officer Michael Fanone, Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges, former U.S. Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell, and former U.S. Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn are shown attending a hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol in the Cannon House Office Building on Oct. 13, 2022 in Washington, Alex Wong/Getty Images

WASHINGTON (States Newsroom) — President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign on Monday called on voters to disavow violence as a viable part of this year’s campaign cycle, including comments made by his Republican opponent and former President Donald Trump.

Former U.S. Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell, District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges, and Biden-Harris Communications Director Michael Tyler said during a press conference Americans must reject the way Trump has campaigned so far.

“I will start by saying simply that political violence has no place in the United States of America. It should never be acceptable,” Tyler said. “This is a conversation that should not even be necessary. In fact, it’s a conversation that, even a decade ago, would have been unrecognizable in our political discourse. But it’s not anymore.”

Trump’s campaign is recycling many of the themes of his unsuccessful bid for the White House four years ago that eventually led to a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Trump posting on social media over the weekend, showing Biden “hogtied and gagged in the back of a pickup truck,” is another example of how Trump chooses “to traffic in violence as he seeks to regain power,” Tyler said.

The Associated Press said in its report the video showed “the image of a hog-tied President Joe Biden painted on the tailgate of a passing truck.”

Steven Cheung, Trump campaign spokesman, said in a written statement that “Democrats and crazed lunatics have not only called for despicable violence against President Trump and his family, they are actually weaponizing the justice system against him.”

Trump faces 88 criminal charges in four cases, including for his role inciting violence on Jan. 6 based on false claims of election interference and a separate case regarding classified documents.

Trump traveling to Michigan, Wisconsin

The press conference was held inside the Democratic National Committee building in Washington, D.C., just ahead of Trump campaigning in Michigan and Wisconsin on Tuesday.

Gonell criticized Trump for embracing the people convicted of crimes for their role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, whom he’s called “patriots” and “political prisoners.”

“His failure to denounce violence on Jan. 6, 2021, is a slap in the face to every officer who put their life on the line that day,” Gonell said. “He doesn’t give a damn about us.”

Gonell said Trump has not called any of the police officers injured in that attack in the three years since his supporters marched from a rally he held near the White House to the Capitol before attacking police, breaking into the building, and ending the country’s history of peaceful transitions of power.

“For Trump, the violence is a weapon to get what he wants — power, revenge, retribution,” Gonell said.

Republicans cannot be depended on to defend the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law, since they have made excuses for Trump’s past behaviors, he said.

“Every single American should listen to what Trump is saying,” Gonell said. “He’s saying that he’s willing to do January 6 again. That’s frightening. And he must not be elected in November.”

Hodges rebuked Trump for “continuing to encourage political violence” within the United States.

“My fellow officers and I experienced that type of violence at the hands of a mob of MAGA extremists on January 6, all because they bought into Donald Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen,” Hodges said.

Trump shouldn’t say that he supports law enforcement when he also chooses to “inflame and encourage political violence at every turn,” Hodges said.

“You can’t claim to be on our side and then promise pardons for the violent insurrectionists who assaulted me and my brave colleagues and killed my fellow officers Brian Sicknick and Jeffrey Smith,” he said.

The District of Columbia’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled that Sicknick died of natural causes following the attack on the Capitol. The USCP said in a written statement in April 2021 that it accepted the findings but that they did “not change the fact Officer Sicknick died in the line of duty, courageously defending Congress and the Capitol.”

Smith died by suicide in the days after he was attacked by pro-Trump rioters on Jan. 6. The Department of Justice classified his death as having occurred in the line of duty.

The D.C. Police and Firefighters’ Retirement and Relief Board came to the same conclusion, writing in a letter that “Officer Smith sustained a personal injury on January 6, 2021, while performing his duties and that his injury was the sole and direct cause of his death,” according to NBC News.

Recasting Jan. 6

During Monday’s press conference, Gonell rejected attempts by Trump and many of his supporters to rewrite or recast the events of Jan. 6 as nonviolent or simply a tour of the Capitol.

“We were being attacked. We were being crushed. Members of Congress were rushing to some of these areas to hide for refuge or escape the building,” Gonell said. “If it wasn’t for what we did on that day, I don’t think they would have made it out.”

Some of those members, he said, have “the audacity to tell me that nothing happened and if it did happen, it wasn’t as bad as it was.”

“But they know on January 6th who was culpable,” he added. “They know how fearful they were on that day. And if it wasn’t because of what we did, they wouldn’t have survived.”

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