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Trump ally Dan Bongino, the brother of George Floyd and the sister of a slain officer are among the dozen witnesses who are slated to testify Wednesday in front of the House Judiciary Committee, according to a communication reviewed by POLITICO.
The mix of witnesses — including civil rights advocates and a pastor allied with President Donald Trump — all but ensures the high stakes hearing will be emotional and comes as Congress weighs police reforms.
Bongino — the combative Fox News personality who is a favorite of President Donald Trump’s — was included on an informal list of witnesses sent to staff of committee Democrats Monday night. He was listed as one of the Republicans’ witnesses. A spokesperson for committee Republicans declined to comment, and Bongino did not immediately respond to multiple requests for comment.
Democrats, meanwhile, are planning to call Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, as well as an attorney for the family and a slew of other witnesses who provided input on Democrats’ sweeping police reform package that was unveiled this week.
Wednesday’s hearing on police brutality follows the death of Floyd, an unarmed African American man who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was seen in a video pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd begged for his life. Chauvin is facing multiple charges, including second-degree murder.
Two autopsy reports have called the death a homicide, and video of the killing set off massive, nationwide protests against police brutality. Some protesters have called for defunding police departments, along with a host of other proposed changes.
The Judiciary panel could mark up the police reform bill as early as next week, with a floor vote expected before the end of this month, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced Tuesday.
Bongino, formerly an agent in the U.S. Secret Service, is an outspoken defender of law enforcement. In a recent "Fox and Friends” appearance, he said defunding police was “catastrophic.”
“People will die,” he said.
Shin Inouye, a spokesperson for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, confirmed that Vanita Gupta— the organization’s president, and the former head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division — will also testify.
“Vanita looks forward to offering her views on behalf of The Leadership Conference to the House Judiciary Committee,” he said in a statement. “We look forward to working with Congress to work for real change that shrinks the footprint of the criminal legal system, including police, in Black and Brown people’s lives and makes all communities safer and more prosperous.”
The other Democratic witnesses, according to a source familiar with the list, include Art Acevedo, chief of the Houston Police Department; Paul Butler, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center; Benjamin Crump, attorney for the Floyd family; Ron Davis, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives; Phillip Goff, president of the Center for Policing Equity; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; and Marc Morial, the president of the National Urban League.
The Democrats' witness list draws heavily from a list of advisers that the committee turned to earlier this month for recommendations on policy changes to address police brutality and systemic racism: Ifill, Gupta, Morial, Goff and Davis were among those who briefed the committee on June 2 as Democrats began crafting their a package of police reforms.
In addition to Bongino, Republicans are also planning to call Angela Underwood Jacobs, the sister of Federal Protective Services Officer David Underwood, who was shot and killed during recent protests and riots in Oakland, Calif.; and Darrell Scott, an African American pastor and Trump ally.
Scott is listed on the communication that POLITICO reviewed, and confirmed he will participate.
“I think defunding, dismantling police departments would be one of the most irresponsible, foolish, unwise decisions that any elected official has ever made in the history of this great country," Scott said.
The trio of witnesses selected by Republicans underscores the GOP's desire to echo Trump’s “law and order” message, even as they call for some police reforms.
But Republicans have uniformly condemned Floyd’s killing. Bongino has called the video of Floyd's death "really, really tough to watch."
"When I was in the 75th precinct as a New York City Police Department [officer,] the golden rule was when the cuffs are on and the subject is controlled, the fight is over," he said in an appearance on the Fox News show Hannity on May 28.
Bongino has also lobbed criticism at a number of committee Democrats over the years — including calling Judiciary panel Chairman Jerry Nadler an "intergalactic laughingstock" — a preview of the potential fireworks that could erupt at Wednesday’s hearing.
After special counsel Robert Mueller testified to the panel about his probe of Russian election interference, Bongino tweeted that Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) “should resign in disgrace.” He called Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), another member, one of “the legendary liars in Congress.” And he called Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) a “[f]ailed human being.”
Kyle Cheney contributed to this story.