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D.C. police officer assaulted during Capitol riot says GOP congressman refused to shake his hand

Fanone says he's still suffering lingering effects of a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder from the attack.
January 6th Commission Visit
D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, addresses the media on Capitol Hill, May 27, 2021.Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — A Washington, D.C., police officer injured during the Jan. 6 Capitol attack said that he was snubbed by a Republican congressman who previously compared the riot to a “normal tourist visit."

Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, who has described the lingering effects of a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder from the attack, told CNN's Don Lemon Wednesday evening that he had gone to Capitol Hill with the hope of speaking to House Republicans about his experience.

Fanone said he saw Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., in the elevator and extended his hand to the congressman — only to be rebuffed.

“He just stared at me. I asked him if he was going to shake my hand, and he told me that he didn't know who I was,” Fanone said. “So I introduced myself, I said that I was Officer Michael Fanone, that I was a D.C. Metropolitan police officer who fought on Jan. 6 to defend the Capitol and as a result, I suffered a traumatic brain injury as well as a heart attack after having been tased numerous times at the base of my skull as well as being severely beaten.”

Fanone said that Clyde then turned away from him and the congressman pulled out his cell phone and appeared to try to pull up an audio recording app on his phone.

“As the elevator doors opened, he ran as quickly as he could, like a coward,” Fanone told CNN about the interaction. “I took that particular interaction like very personally but I also took it as a representation of Andrew Clyde giving the middle finger to myself and every other member of the Metropolitan Police Department and U.S. Capitol Police that responded that day.”

A request for comment was not immediately returned Thursday by Clyde's office.

Fanone said he was with Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, who also defended the Capitol on Jan. 6, when the encounter with Clyde occurred.

Clyde was one of 21 House Republicans who voted against a bill Tuesday that would award Congressional gold medals to honor Capitol Police officers and others who protected the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Fanone said he went to the Capitol to make appointments with members but didn't meet with any Wednesday aside from the chance elevator encounter. He told CNN that he wanted to show those GOP members footage of his body camera that day.

“I didn't go there with the thought that I was going to change a bunch of hearts and minds, but I wanted to better educate them as to what all sorts of experiences were that day,” Fanone said.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., tweeted about the handshake incident, and said in an interview with Joy Reid on MSNBC Wednesday that Fanone called him afterward to share what had happened.

“After he refused to shake his hand, [Clyde] pulled out his cell phone and started recording Fanone like he was some sort of criminal he had to document the interaction," Swalwell said.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., a vocal critic of many of his GOP colleagues who support former President Donald Trump, tweeted Wednesday, “I just called Officer Fanone and confirmed this story. This is really incredible. Also relayed an interaction he had with another members Chief of Staff that was really incredibly bad and disrespectful.”

Fanone told CNN Thursday that the congressional aide Kinzinger was referring to worked for a Montana Republican and the staffer asked Fanone to present his badge and requested his badge number. The only congressman in the House representing Montana is GOP Rep. Matt Rosendale.

Clyde helped barricade a set of doors to the House floor after a pro-Trump mob breached the Capitol in an effort to prevent Congress from formalizing President Joe Biden's win. At a congressional hearing in May, Clyde downplayed the attack.

“If you didn't know that TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit,” Clyde said.