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Harry Dunn, among the police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, speaks at a press conference Thursday held by the campaign to re-elect President Joe Biden. (Wisconsin Examiner photo)

Officers who experienced Capitol attack campaign for Biden in Wisconsin

by Erik Gunn, Wisconsin Examiner
June 14, 2024

Two police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol during the violent attack on Jan. 6, 2021, joined a press conference Thursday in Madison to urge voters not to return Donald Trump to the White House in November.

“Donald Trump continues to encourage and embrace political violence,” said Daniel Hodges, a D.C. police officer who emphasized he was speaking in his own capacity and not as a police department or city representative. “He hasn’t backed down from anything he said that sparked an insurrection.”

The press conference was held by the campaign to re-elect President Joe Biden. Hodges spoke on the steps of the Wisconsin State Capitol as Democratic activists and state lawmakers stood behind him.

“Here’s the message for Donald Trump,” Hodges said. “You can’t call yourself pro-law enforcement when you inflame political violence at every turn. You can’t claim to be on our side and then promise pardons for violent rioters who assaulted me” and other officers. “As a law enforcement officer, I believe he has no place anywhere near the Oval Office. I am deeply concerned that if we do not stop him, history could repeat itself.”

Thursday’s press conference reflected one of the Democrats’ core themes in the 2024 elections, running against the “MAGA Extremism” of Trump and the Republican Party. On Thursday the Biden-Harris campaign released an ad that focused on the Jan. 6 attack and on Trump’s statements that he would pardon people who have been convicted in connection with it.

Wisconsin Secretary of State Sarah Godlewski introduced Hodges after describing how the attack unfolded as it was  broadcast live on television.

“This was not a peaceful transition of power,” Godlewski said. “It was un-American. It was an attack on the rule of law and on our democracy.”

Trump “continues to perpetuate that he won the 2020 election, which is a lie —  despite even his own fake electors admitting to my office in writing that they were part of a larger conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election,” she said.

Her comment referred to Wisconsin’s Republican fake electors,  who forged electoral votes for Trump on Dec. 14, 2020, as part of a scheme to overturn Biden’s victory in the presidential election that November.

On Dec. 6, 2023, the 10 Wisconsin fake electors settled a federal lawsuit arising from their actions, and as part of the settlement they sent a letter Dec. 11 to the offices of the U.S. Senate president, the U.S. archivist, the federal court and the Wisconsin Secretary of State.

The letter states the document reporting the false electoral votes “was then used as part of an attempt to improperly overturn the 2020 election results.” It acknowledged they were not Wisconsin’s duly elected presidential electors.

Thursday’s press conference was part of a three-city swing, with appearances by the officers scheduled for Milwaukee Thursday afternoon and Eau Claire Friday afternoon.

“On Jan. 6 we protected Republicans, Democrats, independents alike,” said Harry Dunn, the other Jan. 6 police officer. “We believe in our institutions, we believe that they need good people in them to be strong.”

The Capitol rioters sought “to stop the certification of the election,” Dunn said. “As ugly as that day was, I’m proud to say that our officers won that day and the certification of the election happened. We may not be so lucky next time.”

He recounted Trump describing the people involved in the Jan. 6 attack as “patriots” and alluded to the former president’s statement that there would be “a bloodbath for the country” if he isn’t elected this year.

“I know what a bloodbath looks like because we saw one on Jan. 6, and I fear it will be worse,” Dunn said.

Trump was indicted last year on federal charges of unlawfully trying to overturn the 2020 election through actions that culminated in the Capitol attack. His trial has been postponed while the U.S. Supreme Court considers his claim that he is immune from prosecution for any acts he committed as president.

While participants in the attack have been convicted, “there hasn’t been accountability yet at the highest level,” Dunn said. “The person who incited it has not been held accountable. In fact, we’re still waiting for the Supreme Court to determine if he can be held accountable.”

Trump claims ‘great unity’ after talks with congressional GOP

Both officers acknowledged frustration that, despite widespread publicity, including video from news organizations and months of hearings by a U.S. House committee convened to examine the attack, a large swath of the population appears to reject first-hand accounts such as theirs of the events during the attack.

Officer Dennis Hodges speaks at a Biden re-election campaign press conference about the U.S. Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021. (Wisconsin Examiner photo)

“I don’t know how you get to that point,” Hodges said. “I think it’s a testament to the power of misinformation or propaganda, the power of our leaders to mislead and the power of people to just believe what they want to believe because it’s convenient.”

Dunn name-checked politicians who in the past have criticized Trump over the Jan. 6 attack but have gone on to endorse the former president.

“We’ve seen [Sens.] Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, [Rep.] Kevin McCarthy, [former GOP presidential hopeful] Nikki Haley all say that they’re done with him, that he’s responsible for what happened on Jan. 6, and where are they right now? Right by his side,” Dunn said.

“We’re not trying to reach those people,” he added. In Wisconsin, “there are hundreds of thousands of people that don’t understand fully what happened that day.”

Those voters “don’t necessarily believe Donald Trump, but they want to  hear it – they want to know what happened,” Dunn said.

“They want to know what’s at stake. And that’s why I’m honored to be out here,” he continued. “Because as long as you have individuals on that side, white washing, downplaying, flat out lying about what happened that day, you’ll continue to see officers — me and Danny Hodges and other officers — push back and fight back against them.”

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Wisconsin Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Wisconsin Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Ruth Conniff for questions: info@wisconsinexaminer.com. Follow Wisconsin Examiner on Facebook and X.

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