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Capitol police officer describes Jan. 6 riots as 'war scene'

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Injured U.S. Capitol police officer Caroline Edwards testifies in front of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/111a0d7b598707d7a52e79253488c3e4/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Injured U.S. Capitol police officer Caroline Edwards testifies in front of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

June 9 (UPI) -- U.S. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards described the scene at the Capitol Building during the Jan. 6 riots as a "war scene" as she testified before the House select committee investigating the riots on Thursday night.

The bipartisan committee, formed last July with the main task to investigate the attack at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, began to bring before the American people the result of more than 1,000 interviews and its investigation over the past 11 months, more than 500 days after the attack.

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Edwards, appearing as one of two live witnesses Thursday night, described the scene as supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in what the committee said was part of a conspiracy to overturn his 2020 presidential election loss.

"I can remember my breath catching in my throat because what I saw was a war scene," she said.

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The committee played video showing Edwards being knocked unconscious while attempting to prevent rioters from forcing their way through barricades surrounding the Capitol.

"I felt the bike rack come on top of my head and I was pushed backwards, and my foot caught the stair behind me and my chin hit the handrail," she recalled in her testimony. "At that point I blacked out but the back of my head clipped the concrete stairs behind me."

Edwards said she returned to duty as "adrenaline kicked in" and described the situation as officers being overwhelmed by the rioters.

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"They were bleeding. They were throwing up. I was slipping in people's blood," she said. "It was carnage. It was chaos. I can't even describe what I saw. Never in my wildest dreams did I think as a police officer I would find myself in the middle of a battle."

"I'm not combat trained," she added.

Edwards also described witnessing Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who died on Jan. 7 from injuries sustained during the riot, "with his head in his hands" and appearing "ghostly pale."

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She said she initially believed Sicknick had been pepper sprayed but became concerned when she saw his face.

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"If you get sprayed with pepper spray, you're going to turn red. He turned just about as pale a sheet of paper," Edwards said while raising a white sheet of paper. "So I looked back to see what he hit, what had happened, and that's when I got sprayed in the eyes as well."

During the fist night of testimony, the committee, which is made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans, sought to detail how a mob of radical Trump supporters assaulted police and broke doors and windows to get inside the building while some searched for members of Congress.

Many have labeled it a coup attempt, and hundreds of people have been arrested since the day of the attack, facing federal charges -- all as the result of a misguided bid to halt certification of Joe Biden's election victory.

They also sought to detail the roles played by Trump -- who was impeached for inciting the Capitol attack, but acquitted by a Republican Senate -- and members of his administration.

Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson said that Trump "spurred a mob" that stormed the Capitol building that day.

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"Donald Trump was at the center of this conspiracy and ultimately Donald Trump, the president of the United States, spurred a mob of domestic enemies of the Constitution to march down the Capitol and subvert American democracy," Thompson, D-Miss., said in his opening statement.

In March, the committee for the first time indicated that Trump was part of a conspiracy to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election.

It noted that in the weeks after the election, Trump interfered with the certification process, disseminated false information about voter fraud and "pressured state officials to alter state election results and federal officials to assist in that effort."

The night's second live witness was documentary filmmaker Nick Quested, who followed the members of the extremist group the Proud Boys on the day of the riots. He said that they made their way to the Capitol before Trump even began his address on the Ellipse that morning.

"There was a large contingent, more than I would expect, and I was confused to a certain extent why we were walking away from the president's speech because that's what I felt we were there to cover," he said.

Thompson said the movement of the Proud Boys indicated that the riots were not a spontaneous escalation of the protests but a "coordinated plan" that served as the "culmination of a months-long effort spearheaded by President Trump."

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"They were not there for President Trump's speech," he said of the Proud Boys. "We know this because they left that area to march toward the Capitol before the speech began."

The committee also shared details from inside the Trump administration that depict efforts to overturn the election in the months leading up to the riots.

During his opening remarks, Thompson played a video of private testimony from William Barr, who served as U.S. attorney general under Trump from 2019 until he resigned on Dec. 23, 2020, just weeks before the insurrection.

Barr said he had three discussions with Trump in the months following the election and leading up to the riots in which he disagreed with Trump's claims that there was evidence of fraud that would have altered the result of the election.

"I made it clear that I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff ... I didn't want to be a part of it and that's one of the reasons that went into me deciding to leave when I did," Barr said.

In another video clip, Barr said he "repeatedly told the president, in no uncertain terms, that I did not see evidence of fraud and -- you know, that would have affected the outcome of the election."

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The committee then shared a video of the investigators' interview with Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, who said that Barr's assertions had an impact on her decision making.

"It affected my decision," she said. "I respect Attorney General Barr, so I accepted what he was saying."

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, one of the committee's two Republican members, said that former Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, and Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani held a meeting on Dec. 18, 2020, to discuss their plans to overturn the election.

"We know the group discussed a number of dramatic steps, including that President Trump impose martial law, seize voting machines and potentially rerun elections," Cheney said.

After the meeting, Cheney noted, Trump sent a tweet that urged people to come to the Capitol on Jan. 6, saying it would "be wild."

"As you will see, this was a pivotal moment," said Cheney. "This tweet initiated a chain of events. The tweet led to the planning for what occurred on Jan. 6, including by the Proud Boys who ultimately led the invasion of the Capitol and the violence on that day."

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Former Vice President Mike Pence is not expected to appear during the hearings but is likely to be a central figure due to his official procedural role in certifying the Electoral College results for Biden in the midst of the riots. Some of the rioters sought out Pence for his refusal to attempt to invalidate the election results, which Trump repeatedly and wrongly claimed that Pence had the power to do. Some of the rioters shouted, "Hang Mike Pence!"

Committee member Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., has previously said that Pence's refusal to leave the Capitol during the assault helped to prevent Trump's allies from gaining a possible opening to overturn Biden's election.

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said in recorded testimony that Pence was "very animated" during the riots and "issued very explicit, very direct, unambiguous orders" to get the situation under control.

"He was very animated, very direct, very firm to [Defense Secretary Christopher Miller]. Get the military down here, get the guard down here. Put down this situation, et cetera," he said.

Conversely, he said that Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows stressed that the administration must make clear that Pence had not taken control of the situation over Trump.

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"He said: 'We have to kill the narrative that the vice president is making all the decisions. We need to establish the narrative, you know, that the president is still in charge and that things are steady or stable,' words to that effect," Milley said. "I immediately interpreted that as politics. Politics. Politics. Red flag for me, personally. No action. But I remember it distinctly."

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Capitol Hill police salute the passing of the funeral hearse on Sunday for slain Officer Brian Sicknick, who died in the rioting at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

The committee has subpoenaed dozens of people to give testimony -- including members of Trump's family and his administration, campaign officials and other allies, five sitting Republican members of Congress, including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, and individuals associated with organizing or participating in the Jan. 6 assault, which killed Capitol Police officer Sicknick and four Trump supporters. Other officers were injured by the mob.

Last fall, attorneys for Trump instructed the former president's aides to defy the committee's subpoenas and sought to block the panel from receiving documents from Trump's White House in a bid that was ultimately denied by the Supreme Court.

Despite the resistance, Trump's son Donald Trump Jr.; and daughter, Ivanka Trump; her husband, Jared Kushner; and Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani all voluntarily testified before the committee in private. But many refused to appear and were charged with contempt of Congress, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and former advisers Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro.

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Donald Trump supporters breach Capitol, riot over election results

Capitol Hill police salute the passing of the funeral hearse on Sunday for slain Officer Brian Sicknick, who died in the rioting at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich told Insider that allies of the former president would defend him during counter-programming via other broadcast channels.

"The entire MAGA movement is united against this illegitimate committee and will work to ensure President Trump is defended against yet another Democrat show trial," Budowich said. "Elected leaders and conservative organizations from every corner of our party are working together to ensure every American is informed by the truth, something the Fake News media is unwilling to do."

The committee's second public hearing is scheduled for Monday at 10 a.m. EDT. Additional hearings have not been scheduled, but there could be as many as eight this month and one in September.

Fox News is the only major broadcast network that did not cover the committee's prime-time hearings live. Commentator Laura Ingraham said on her program this week, "We cater to our audience."

House investigates Jan. 6 attack on U.S. Capitol

Capitol Hill police salute the passing of the funeral hearse on Sunday for slain Officer Brian Sicknick, who died in the rioting at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

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