‘I never expected today to be quite as emotional for me as it has been’
Mr Kinzinger, who is one of just two Republicans to take a seat on the select committee, told the officers that despite feeling broken, they had “won”.
“I never expected today to be quite as emotional for me as it has been,” he said. “I have talked to a number of you and gotten to know you.
“I think it’s important to tell you right now though; you guys may individually feel a little broken,” he continued. “You guys all talk about the effects you have to deal with and the impact of that day. But you guys won, you guys held.
“You know democracies are not defined by our bad days,” he said, his voice breaking. “We are defined by how we come back from bad days.”
The GOP representative’s comment came amid a dramatic opening day for the committee after one of the officers who fought back rioters on 6 January, Sergeant Aquilino Gonell, told the committee he was “still recovering” from the assault – which former President Donald Trump claimed involved many rioters giving police officers “hugs and kisses”.
“I’m still recovering from those ‘hugs and kisses’ that day that he claimed that so many rioters, terrorists, were assaulting us that day. If that was hugs and kisses, we should all go to his house and do the same thing to him,” Sgt Gonell said.
“What he was doing, instead of sending the military, instead of sending the support or telling his people, his supporters to stop this nonsense, he egged them to continue fighting.”
The committee has been rocked by partisan fighting before the first hearing even began, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejecting two of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s picks for the committee. In retaliation, Mr McCarthy pulled all of his GOP picks from the panel.
However, both Mr Kinzinger and Rep Liz Cheney agreed to sit on the committee, prompting a backlash from Mr McCarthy, who described the pair as “Pelosi Republicans”.