Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans serving on the House Select Committee on the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, choked back tears as he gave an emotional speech to the officers who testified before the panel on Tuesday.
Mr. Kinzinger, of Illinois, accepted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s nomination for him to serve on the committee Sunday, just two days before the first hearing.
“I never expected today to be quite as emotional for me as it has been,” Mr. Kinzinger said on the verge of tears while addressing the officers. “You guys may individually feel a little broken … but you guys won, you guys held. Democracies are not defined by our bad days. We’re defined by how we come back from bad days.”
Tuesday’s hearing centered on testimony from four officers who were on duty Jan. 6, including Capitol Police Officers Aguilino Gonell and Harry Dunn and Metropolitan Police Officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges.
The officers recounted their experience, touching on memories of them being physically and verbally assaulted while being overtaken and outnumbered by the crowd of rioters.
Mr. Kinzinger drew a comparison of the day to last summer’s racial justice protests, which some of his Republican colleagues have called for separate investigations into.
“I condemn those riots and the destruction of property that resulted, but not once did I ever feel that the future of self-governance was threatened like I did on Jan. 6,” Mr. Kinzinger said. “There’s a difference between breaking the law and rejecting the rule of law. Between a crime, even grave crimes, and a coup.”
Mr. Kinzinger’s appointment followed Mrs. Pelosi’s rejection last week of two pro-Trump Republicans, Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Jim Banks of Indiana.
The lawmaker, however, asserted that he did not have a political stake in serving on the committee, and he condemned those who have engaged in “conspiracies that fuel the violence and division” in the country.
“This cannot continue to be a partisan fight,” Mr. Kinzinger said. “I’m a Republican. I’m a conservative. But in order to heal from the damage caused that day, we need to call out the facts.”
Other members of the panel, which include seven Democrats and Rep. Liz Cheney, Wyoming Republican, also became emotional at points during the hearing.
Rep. Adam Schiff, California Democrat, touched on the importance of having peaceful transfers of power during elections.
“If we’re no longer committed to a peaceful transfer of power after elections if our side doesn’t win, then God help us,” said Mr. Schiff, holding back tears. “If we deem elections illegitimate merely because they didn’t go our way rather than trying to do better next time, then God help us … I have faith because of folks like you.”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, California Democrat, addressed the officers by dubbing them patriots.
“Our country is lucky, really blessed, that you are as patriotic as you are,” Ms. Lofgren said.
More than 140 officers were injured as a result of the Jan. 6 riot.
The Justice Department has charged more than 500 people in connection to the events of that day.