In the opening day of testimony before the House Jan. 6 Select Committee, U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy disclosed that she and another Congresswoman were hiding just a few paces away from where officers were holding the line against riotous insurrectionists.
Murphy, the Winter Park Democrat on the committee, told four officers who defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 that she believes they may have specifically saved her life and that of Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice of New York on that violent afternoon.
At the first day of the hearing into how and why insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol trying to overturn the presidential election certification, Murphy showed video of some of the most intense fighting between them and police. She said she and Rice were hiding in a small office 40 paces away — perhaps, she believed, the only members of Congress in that area — and hearing everything happening in the hallway outside.
“Imagine if they had caught the two members of Congress that were just 40 feet from where you all were,” Murphy said.
“The main reason rioters didn’t harm any members of Congress was because they didn’t encounter any members of Congress. And they didn’t encounter any members of Congress was because law enforcement officers did your jobs that day. And you did it well,” Murphy said. “I think without you what was a terrible and tragic day would have been even more terrible and tragic.”
Murphy’s account of her own situation came in a day of dramatic testimony from four officers who had been in the center of the storm, and who were all injured, Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, and Metropolitan Police Officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges.
Her account also came as the Select Committee — controversially composed of seven Democrats and two Republicans because House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and most Republicans refused to participate — offered profound statements about what Jan. 6 meant to American Democracy. The statements of Republican U.S. Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois were as strong as those of their Democratic colleagues in denouncing the riots as anti-American. Kinzinger struggled not to weep.
When asked what they wanted, all four officers asked the committee to see if anyone in power played a role in organizing, promoting, or delaying response to the insurrection.
“It’s not a secret that it was political. They literally were there to ‘stop the steal,'” Dunn said.
Murphy brought the officers’ actions into the perspective of what they were doing: protecting members of Congress and others, including then-Vice President Mike Pence, called together on Jan. 6 to participate in the formal certification of Joe Biden as winner of the 2020 presidential election.
While Rice and Murphy hid, they could hear what video later revealed, when the rioters trapped Hodges in a door as he and other police tried to prevent rioters from getting into the hallway. Rioters nearly crushed Hodges, grabbed away his gas mask, and pummeled him.
“During the exact moment of time Officer Hodges that, in that video, you were sacrificing your body, it gave Congresswoman Rice and I and the Capitol Police officers who had been sent to extract us the freedom of movement down that hallway to escape,” Murphy said. “I shudder to think about what would have happened had you not held that line.”
She offered “a profound thank you.”