Even the harrowing and emotional testimony of four police officers about their experiences defending the U.S. Capitol isn’t enough to make some Republicans in Congress change their tune on January 6.
Andrew Clyde, a Republican congressman from Georgia, on Tuesday said he stood by his past statements comparing the Capitol rioters to a “tourist visit” during a heated argument with Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland.
Raskin, who is a member of the House committee that heard the officers’ testimony, pressed the issue with Clyde during a different committee meeting hours later. Raskin said the officers were asked about Clyde’s comments and that they pushed back against that characterization, with one officer, Daniel Hodges, purposefully referring to the rioters as “terrorists.” So Raskin asked Clyde if he stood by his statement.
“I would like you to quote my exact statement, not your interpretation of my statement. For the record,” Clyde said.
Raskin agreed and then read Clyde’s words from a past hearing where he said, “Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion, staying between the stanchions and ropes taking videos and pictures. You know, if you didn’t know the TV footage was a video from January 6, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.”
“And I stand by that exact statement as I said it,” Clyde responded.
Raskin continued, asking Clyde if he agreed with the officers that the “medieval mob that had baseball bats and lead pipes” were terrorists, not tourists.
“That statement did not say that those people were tourists. Read the statement,” Clyde said.
He later added, “We are here to discuss this amendment and you’re obviously not interested in that. You want to make this another January 6 hearing and this is not! This is the rules committee!”
The back-and-forth continued as Raskin questioned Clyde’s vote against a measure to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Capitol police officers for their service on January 6.
“People lost fingers, people had their eyes gouged. People experienced traumatic brain injuries, people who are experiencing post-traumatic stress syndrome to this day. And you voted ‘No’ on extending Congressional Gold Medals to them,” Raskin said. “Why did you do that?”
“I co-sponsored a bill to give three gold medals to the Capitol Police, all right, for all of what they’ve done. It was introduced by Representative Gohmert,” Clyde said, raising his voice.
“So, I’m sorry if you didn’t understand that or if you didn’t maybe get that information, but I am not going to vote to give Speaker Pelosi a gold medal because she is the one who is in charge of the Capitol Police and the sergeant at arms. She is responsible,” he added, echoing the current Republican stance of laying the blame for the Capitol riot on Nancy Pelosi.