Former Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn, who took on Jan. 6 rioters, discusses congressional run

"I thought, what better way to continue my mission of public service."

ByABC News
January 23, 2024, 1:55 PM

Three years ago, Harry Dunn squared off with the mob of supporters for former President Donald Trump that attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and risked his life to defend the building.

The former Capitol Police officer has been outspoken about the dangers he, his fellow officers and members of Congress faced that day and, more importantly, what he says are the ongoing threats to democracy.

Earlier this month, Dunn announced he is running on the Democratic ticket for Maryland's 3rd Congressional District after the incumbent, Rep. John Sarbanes (D), announced he's not seeking reelection.

Harry Dunn speaks with ABC News Live.
ABC News

Dunn spoke with ABC News Live's Linsey Davis on Monday about his platform.

ABC NEWS LIVE: We know that you're running as a Democrat to represent Maryland's 3rd Congressional district, which includes several counties outside of Baltimore. First and foremost, just share with us why you decided that you wanted to run.

HARRY DUNN: Thanks for having me on. It's always good to talk with you. It's been three years now since the Jan. 6 attack on this nation. I've been working as hard as I can to seek out accountability and fight for justice and the preservation of our democracy and our Constitution. I've been doing that in a public capacity for the last three years, and I feel like I've done all that I can do in the role that I've been in as a Capitol Police officer in the furtherance of that fight. I love the saying that until there's nothing that can be done, there's always something that can be done.

And it's no exaggeration to say that we are still under a threat of our democracy no longer existing. And once Mr. Sarbanes, who represents the 3rd District now, announced that he is not seeking election, that created a real opportunity for me to do even more. So I thought, what better way to continue my mission of public service, which I've been doing for the last 15-plus years? What better way to continue that than to seek election to represent the people of the 3rd District of Maryland?

ABC NEWS LIVE: You delivered, of course, some memorable testimony before the House Committee which investigated the attack and called the pro-Trump rioters terrorists. You've also written a book about your experiences from that day. Tell us what happened on January 6 that has really shaped your campaign.

DUNN: I don't necessarily know if it's shaped my campaign. Obviously, on Jan. 6, I was a police officer and I did my job. Just like so many brave men and women from the Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police, they did their job that day. But everything that I've done afterward, I don't view it as me being a police officer. I just view it as me being an American citizen who cares about his country, who loves his country, [and] who hates the direction that it is headed.

And having a front-row seat to the events of Jan. 6 and serving at the place where members of Congress, [and] Donald Trump's subordinates are attempting to whitewash everything that happened and just basically give him a free pass for it. I've been at the front seat, being a servant at the table, watching them, it's kind of fueled me to this moment that we're in right now. And, if Jan. 6 didn't happen, surely you and I aren't sitting here having this conversation at this moment. But Jan. 6 did happen, and there's an opportunity for me to have a seat at the table and not just watch now.

ABC NEWS LIVE: What do you feel is the biggest challenge Congress is facing right now?

DUNN: Stability. Look how long we went without having a speaker elected. Look at how long it took former Speaker [Kevin] McCarthy to get elected, and now, [the] current speaker that we have right now. There's no stability in Congress. I think people want to feel secure and they want a sense of stability, and we're not getting that in Congress right now, for whatever reason. Just in the talks about the border security that's going on, that's what the House is currently fighting over with the Senate, having reached an agreement. What are we doing now?

There's no stability in government. We're steadily passing stopgap spending bills, short bills instead of long-term funding. We can't even get that done. So I just think people want stability and security and representation in Congress. I've been a public servant, and I may not be a public official, excuse me, a career public official, but I'm a career public servant. And I've been doing that my whole life. And listening to people and giving them a voice is something that I think I'd be fantastic at.

Harry Dunn speaks with ABC News Live.
ABC News

ABC NEWS LIVE: If you were to be elected, what would you say is the first thing you want to accomplish?

DUNN: Wow, there are so many things that I definitely want to tackle. I've been pounding the pavement since Day One about mental health and any and all legislation that we can form and bring to the forefront for mental health, reducing the stigma, [and] making it more available and accessible for individuals who need it is something that I definitely want to take care of. I also want to tackle prison reform.

There are so many things that, especially now, seem to have the MAGA faction of the Republican Party's attention. They've been using the term hostages to refer to prisoners from Jan. 6. It seems like prison reform is something that they would be willing to talk about. Now people of marginalized communities, and colored communities have been screaming about the criminal justice reform that is needed and necessary for so long. But it's kind of a shame that they only want to bring light to it now that it's affecting the people that they, their supporters, their voters. But that's something I would love to sit down and have a talk about.