A Capitol Police officer who battled the Jan. 6 mob Thursday trashed former Vice President Mike Pence for downplaying the significance of the attack for political gain.

Capitol Breach Investigation

U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, shown testifying during the House select committee hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill in July, said former Vice President Mike Pence’s downplaying of the events that day is “a disgrace.” Oliver Contreras/The New York Times via Associated Press/Pool

Sgt. Aquilino Gonell said in an NPR interview that he was stunned to hear Pence downplay the attack as “one day in January” and deride the committee probing the attack as a partisan waste of time.

“That one day in January almost cost my life,” Gonell said indignantly. “And we did everything possible to prevent (Pence) from being hanged and killed in front of his daughter and his wife. And now he’s telling us (it) doesn’t mean anything.”

“It’s pathetic. It’s a disgrace,” Gonell said. “He swore an oath to the country, not to Donald Trump.” Gonell added.

Gonell was one of the four Capitol Police officers who testified before the Jan. 6 congressional select committee about their harrowing ordeal battling thousands of extremist Trump supporters.

The rioters sought to hunt down perceived enemies like Pence and even set up mock gallows outside to execute him for not backing Trump’s effort to overturn his election loss.

Gonell also lashed out at MAGA lawmakers who have been accused of helping to plot the unconstitutional effort to block certification of President Biden’s election and allow Trump to stay in power.

“It makes you question their motives and their loyalty for the country,” Gonell said.

His anger at Pence suggests the ex-veep still faces an uphill battle to deal with the thorny political questions raised by the attack.

Despite being personally targeted by the violent pro-Trump supporters, Pence still harbors White House ambitions and will need the votes of millions of Trump supporters to win the Republican nomination.

That has forced him to walk a delicate tightrope between gently defending his conduct on Jan. 6 while steering clear of over criticism of the attackers or Trump, who vehemently defends them.


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