Former Capitol Police officer calls GOP lawmaker’s embrace of Trump ‘disappointing’

Former Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell slammed Republican lawmakers for welcoming former President Trump with open arms in closed-door meetings earlier this week, as Trump touted having a “great relationship” with the House and Senate GOP.

In an interview with MSNBC’s Jason Johnson, Gonell — who defended the Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection — called their embrace of Trump “very disappointing.”

“All the sacrifices that we did on January 6 to keep those same members that, yesterday, applauded and greeted the former president, as if he did something great at the Capitol,” Johnson said Friday. “They were running for their lives, and they seem to forget how fearful they were.”

“It’s stunning that, you know, instead of giving the police officers that type of reception, they had chosen to give that to the former president,” he continued. “The same guy who put their lives and our lives at risk.”

Gonell added later, “Instead of holding him [Trump] accountable for it, instead of denouncing him, they have chosen him as a hero.”

His remarks come after Trump made his first visit to the Capitol since the riots and his recent conviction in the Manhattan hush money case. Following separate meetings with the House and Senate GOP, he said he and the lawmakers agreed on “just about everything.”

Trump told reporters briefly after his visit with the Senate that the conversation was “great” and the GOP has “tremendous unity” and “common sense.” He added that the meeting with the House showed the same unity.

“We have one thing in mind, and that’s making our country great,” the presumptive GOP nominee said.

Trump even seemingly mended fences with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is stepping down from his leadership role at the end of the term. The two have had a rocky relationship since 2020, a feud that hit a low point in 2022.

Gonell, in the interview Friday, noted that he has lost trust in Republican-elected officials to protect the Constitution or democracy. He added that the meetings Thursday show the GOP “only has fealty” for one person: Trump.

The former police officer also told Johnson that he lost his career following the injuries he sustained during the Capitol riots. He added that he doesn’t believe he can trust Republican elected officials any longer.

“When I was still in the process of recovering, I had this struggle in my mind, like okay, what if there’s another January 6? And are the Republican-elected officials, are they going to have my back … or help me close the doors?” Gonell said. “Or do I have to watch the threat in front of me and them behind me?”

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