Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., right, shakes hands with U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell after a House select committee hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 27, 2021. Washington Metropolitan Police Department officer Michael Fanone is at left. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)The Republican Party’s self-portrayal as champions of law and order is colliding with searing testimony from police officers themselves. Officers on Tuesday described in vivid, personal terms the terror of defending the U.S. Capitol from violent insurrectionists inspired by then-president Donald Trump on Jan. 6.

Heading into the 2022 midterms, the GOP is seeking political advantage in Americans’ concern about rising crime nationwide. But the police testimony at Tuesday’s debut hearing of the congressional panel investigating the insurrection could undercut that effort. It highlighted the GOP’s effort to brush past the violence unleashed by a mob of Trump’s supporters that endangered hundreds of officers.

“You’re talking about people who claim that they are pro-law enforcement, pro-police, pro-law and order,” said Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell. “Yet when they have the chance and the opportunity to do something about it, to hold people accountable, you don’t, you pass the bucket, like nothing happened.”

The hearing brought greater focus to how the debate over who’s stronger or weaker on crime may unfold in elections. Republicans eager to pounce on Democrats may find themselves facing questions about whether the GOP did enough to stand up for law enforcement when put to the test.

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