A must-see interview if you can spare the time. Michael Fanone has become the most well-known cop who battled the mob on January 6, partly because he’s made himself available to the media but partly too because he was at the heart of one of the insurrection’s most infamous moments. It was Fanone whom the rioters were seen dragging from the Capitol and nearly murdering in the viral video that circulated the following day. He was hit with a stun gun as the mob descended on him, suffered a concussion, and endured a mild heart attack. Miraculously, he survived — but he now has a traumatic brain injury and suffers from PTSD. You’ll see him need to collect himself more than once during the 10-minute chat with Don Lemon below about what happened.
Why is he speaking out again now? Because he’s tired of watching Republican politicians whitewash the riot by portraying it as more an act of peaceful civil disobedience, tantamount to a sit-in, than a violent assault. That spin has come in different flavors from different pols. Ron Johnson harped on the fact that the rioters didn’t shoot anyone to make the case that it wasn’t much of an insurrection. Trump went a step further, claiming in an interview a month ago that there was “zero threat, right from the start… Some of them went in, and they are hugging and kissing the police and the guards.” More recently, the fact that Brian Sicknick didn’t die from injuries inflicted during the riot after all has been treated by some grassroots rightes as evidence not just that the media distorted what happened to him but that they grossly exaggerated how violent the scene at the Capitol was generally in order to serve their anti-Republican agenda.
Nonsense, said Fanone to Lemon, calling what he experienced “the most brutal, savage hand-to-hand combat of my entire life,” a statement that a cop with 20 years of experience doesn’t make lightly.
“It’s been very difficult seeing elected officials and other individuals kind of whitewash the events of that day or downplay what happened,” Fanone said. “Some of the terminology that was used, like ‘hugs and kisses’ and, you know, ‘very fine people,’ was very different from what I experienced and what my co-workers experienced on the 6th.”…
This conflation of Trump’s support with support for police officers was something that Fanone called out specifically, even as he admitted that he’d been “susceptible” to Trump’s pro-police rhetoric.
“To have a group of individuals or, you know, someone who had espoused to be a law and order official or a law and order president and then experience what I experienced on the 6th, which I believe resulted from the rhetoric that was being used in the weeks leading up to January 6th?” he said. “I mean, that was difficult to come to terms with.”
Rioters built a makeshift gallows outside the Capitol that day. At least one rioter kitted out in paramilitary gear was seen walking around the Senate chamber with flex cuffs, presumably to bind hostages. Federal prosecutors have claimed in court filings that some intended to capture and assassinate elected officials. Even the goofier-seeming rioters were allegedly more sinister in their intentions than you might think from looking at them. The so-called QAnon Shaman left a note at Mike Pence’s desk in the Senate chamber that day that read, “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”
According to a Washington Post story published a week after the riot, nearly 60 D.C. city cops like Fanone were injured in the riot along with an unknown number of Capitol Police. A more recent Reuters story says it’s more like 130 cops who were hurt. The psychological toll is harder to calculate, but two officers on the scene committed suicide not long afterward. “He wasn’t the same Jeff that left on the 6th,” said one cop widow afterward.
It wasn’t a sit-in. If not for the cops who successfully blocked thousands of protesters from entering the building via the tunnel system, there may have been a body count among legislators too.
The grim postscript to the riot is that Trump is making life harder for those who stormed the Capitol on his behalf by continuing to insist that the election was stolen. Prosecutors and judges have each cited his comments as a reason for holding suspects without bail; the idea is that, because his incitement is ongoing, they can’t be trusted not to respond violently to it if they’re freed before trial. The current toll, by the way, is more than 400 people criminally charged for participating in the riot and possibly another 100 more to face charges soon, with one judge describing the offenses in a case he heard as equivalent to terrorism. It wasn’t a sit-in and it wasn’t overhyped by the media, their error about Sicknick’s injuries notwithstanding. It was a violent mob. Take it from someone who was there, per the clip below.
Officer Michael Fanone tells @donlemon it’s been very difficult to see elected officials whitewash what happened on Jan. 6.
He was stun-gunned several times and beaten with a flagpole during the Capitol attack.
Watch part 1 of his first in-depth interview: pic.twitter.com/4LzuJcfztl
— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) April 28, 2021