A DC Metropolitan Police officer who was brutally assaulted while defending the US Capitol during the January 6 insurrection said Thursday evening that it’s been “disgraceful” to watch elected officials downplay the riot in recent days.
Michael Fanone, who was stun-gunned several times and beaten with a flagpole during the attack, told CNN’s Don Lemon on “CNN Tonight” that “I’m not a politician. I’m not an elected official. I don’t expect anybody to give two sh*ts about my opinions. But I will say this, you know, those are lies.”
During a congressional hearing Wednesday about the breach of the Capitol, House Republicans spent much of their time repeating a number of false claims about the insurrection as well as sugarcoating the actions of former President Donald Trump and his supporters. The hearing followed House Republicans’ ouster of Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership post after she repeatedly denounced Trump’s “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was stolen.
In pushing their false narrative during Wednesday’s hearing, GOP lawmakers attempted to downplay the events of January 6, suggesting Trump supporters may not have been involved in the attack and even questioning whether the attack should be called an insurrection. Some defended the rioters and cast them as the victims instead of the perpetrators of a deadly insurrection that included attacks on police officers like Fanone.
“Peddling that bullsh*t is an assault on every officer that fought to defend the Capitol,” Fanone said Thursday. “It’s disgraceful.”
The officer said he was “shaking for the better part of the day” after watching the hearing and that he wasn’t the only one. “I was on the phone with dozens of other officers who were just absolutely traumatized by the rhetoric that was being used. And I understand politics. You know, I get that, you know, there’s a push to try to, you know, win back the House in the midterm elections. I understand all of those things,” he said.
“But some things supersede politics. You know, this isn’t about the political future of one party. This is about right and wrong.”
Fanone suffered a heart attack and a concussion during the riot and is dealing with a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. Exclusive new body camera footage, which was broadcast Thursday evening on CNN, shows the Capitol Rotunda filled with Trump supporters just minutes before Fanone was assaulted.
“So that was kind of like the moment before I got swept out. And when I finally like kind of got my bearings out in the crowd, I mean I knew – like I recognized how far away I was from the tunnel entrance – from other officers,” he recalled Thursday evening.
“I was surrounded. I was being violently assaulted from every direction.”
Federal prosecutors have filed charges against Thomas Sibick, who allegedly participated in the assault of Fanone. Prosecutors said Sibick was seen in police body-camera footage assaulting Fanone while he lay on the ground outside the Capitol.
During the brawl, Sibick allegedly grabbed Fanone’s badge and radio, and he later posted a photo of himself holding a police shield on Facebook, court filings say.
In exclusive footage from Fanone’s body camera previously broadcast on CNN, the officer can be heard pleading with the insurrectionists to let him go.
“I have kids,” Fanone says at one point in the video.
CNN’s Holmes Lybrand and Tara Subramaniam contributed to this report.