Jan. 6 officers to campaign for Biden ahead of presidential debate

(L-R) Sgt. Aquilino Gonell of the U.S. Capitol Police, Officer Michael Fanone of the DC Metropolitan Police, Private First Class Harry Dunn of the U.S. Capitol Police and Officer Daniel Hodges of the DC Metropolitan Police pose for a photo after testifying before members of the Select Committee to investigate the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on July 27, 2021. Gonell, Dunn and Hodges will campaign for President Joe Biden in key battleground states ahead of next month's presidential debate with former President Donald Trump. File Pool Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI

May 28 (UPI) -- Three police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol during the deadly riot on Jan. 6, 2021, will campaign for President Joe Biden in key battleground states ahead of next month's debate with former President Donald Trump, the Biden campaign announced Tuesday.

Former Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, who suffered injuries in the attack; U.S. Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn, who is a 15-year veteran with the force; and D.C. police officer Danny Hodges, who testified before the House Jan. 6 Committee, will begin campaigning in Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and New Hampshire to warn voters about a second Trump term in the White House, the campaign said.

"Donald Trump and his unhinged quest for power and retribution pose an existential threat to our democracy," Dunn said in a statement, released by the campaign. "He continues to embrace political violence, going as far as saying there will be a 'bloodbath' if he loses again and promising to be a dictator on 'day one' and pardon Jan. 6 rioters."

Trump's "bloodbath" comment came during a speech in Michigan as he discussed the potential loss of U.S. auto manufacturing jobs to foreign countries, warning that if he is not elected, "it's going to be a bloodbath for the country." While the Biden campaign accused Trump of calling for "political violence," the Trump campaign said the term was used to describe an "economic bloodbath."

Trump has also responded to dictator accusations during campaign speeches, saying he would be a "dictator on day one only" of a second term. "We're closing the border, and we're drilling, drilling, drilling. After that, I'm not a dictator," Trump said.

Actor Robert De Niro hugs one of the officers following a press conference Tuesday outside of the courthouse where former President Donald Trump's hush-money trial is in closing arguments at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City. The former president has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Actor Robert De Niro hugs one of the officers following a press conference Tuesday outside of the courthouse where former President Donald Trump's hush-money trial is in closing arguments at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City. The former president has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

On Tuesday, Dunn joined former D.C. Metropolitan Police officer Michael Fanone -- who suffered a heart attack and brain injury during the Capitol riot -- and actor Robert DeNiro for a press conference outside of the New York courthouse where reporters had gathered for closing arguments at Trump's hush money trial.

"The fight for a lot of us didn't end on Jan. 6, that evening when we went home. The fight still continues now," Dunn told reporters.

Actor Robert De Niro speaks at a press conference Tuesday outside of the courthouse where former President Donald Trump attends closing arguments in his hush money trial at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City. DeNiro called Trump "a clown" and accused the former president of "sowing total chaos," as Trump supporters shouted nearby. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

"What happened that day was an attempt to halt, to overthrow an election. Donald Trump is the greatest threat to our democracy and the safety of communities across the country today. He has encouraged and continues to encourage political violence," Dunn added.

Fanone said he was "brutally assaulted" on Jan. 6 by Trump supporters who were "fueled by Trump's lies and the lies of his surrogates that the 2020 election was stolen."

Actor Robert De Niro departs Tuesday after blasting former President Donald Trump at a press conference outside of the courthouse where closing arguments in Trump's hush money trial are underway at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City. The former president has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

The Justice Department has charged more than 1,200 people with crimes related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. "More than 1,265 defendants have been charged in nearly all 50 states and the District of Columbia," the department wrote in an analysis three years after the attack.

DeNiro, who spoke outside the courthouse Tuesday and referred to Trump as "a clown," has voiced a new Biden campaign ad that shows images from the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol as he claims "Trump wants revenge and he'll stop at nothing to get it."

"That's why I needed to be involved and wanted to be involved in the new Biden-Harris ad, because it shows the violence of Trump and reminds us that he'll use violence against anyone who stands in the way of his megalomania and greed," DeNiro told reporters.

The Trump campaign responded Tuesday with its own statement to the press gathered at the courthouse.

"This is a disgrace. President Trump has been locked up in that courtroom for six weeks," Karoline Leavitt, a Trump campaign spokesperson, told reporters.

"They're making a political mockery of this entire thing," Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung added. "The fact remains that President Trump will overcome, he will fight these charges up and down, and there's nothing to stop the truth from coming out."