Kinzinger Demands GOP Leaders Respond To Officer’s Grief At Downplaying Of Jan. 6

Representative Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, speaks during a hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. The Biden administration is considering withdrawing all troops from Afghanistan by May 1 as it leans on President Ashraf Ghani to accelerate peace talks with the Taliban, including by supporting a proposal for six-nation discussions that include Iran. Photographer: Ting Shen/Bloomberg
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) (Photo by Ting Shen-Pool/Getty Images)
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May 6, 2021 11:09 a.m.

In a new letter, a DC Metropolitan police officer expresses his naked grief and trauma after being “beaten with fists, metal objects, stripped of my issued badge, radio and ammunition magazine and electrocuted numerous times with a Taser” during the Capitol attack on January 6. 

But the emotional crescendo of officer Michael Fanone’s open letter to lawmakers comes towards the end, as he’s describing the lingering psychological damage that makes him feel like his life stalled out on January 7.

“I struggle daily with the emotional anxiety of having survived such a traumatic event but I also struggle with the anxiety of hearing those who continue to downplay the events of that day and those who would ignore them altogether with their lack of acknowledgement,” he wrote, calling the “indifference” to the officers’ ordeal “disgraceful.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), an Air Force veteran, tweeted out the letter, later demanding a response from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA). 

In the immediate wake of the attack, when he was presumably shaken after being in personal danger along with his colleagues, McCarthy admitted that former President Trump bore “responsibility” for the riot. 

He has furiously backpedaled since, one eye on the 2022 midterms, actually arguing during a Fox News interview that Trump earnestly tried to stop the violence. As proof, McCarthy pointed to Trump’s lukewarm video during which he encouraged members of the mob to go home — hours after the attack began, while also telling them that he loved them and tweeting that they should “remember this day forever.” 

McCarthy and Scalise are currently working to dethrone Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the GOP conference chair, for the cardinal sin of holding Trump and his allies accountable for January 6 and the election fraud lie that led to it. Kinzinger has expressed his support for Cheney, though he is one of the very few Republicans to do so. She is reportedly not bothering to fight what seems like her increasingly imminent outster, saying it’s not worth the leadership post if she has to lie. 

Republicans have gone to different lengths to whitewash the violence that unfurled on January 6, leaving multiple people dead and many injured. There’s been a chorus of GOP calls to “move on” from the attack, to stop dwelling on an event that implicates the leader of their party as well as current members. Others, including Trump and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) have tried to rewrite the narrative completely, downplaying the attack as not actually violent. 

They’ve been aided in this rewriting of history by so far keeping a comprehensive January 6 commission off the table, mostly by demanding that, if Democrats insist on investigating the lead-up to the attack, Republicans will also examine Black Lives Matter protests last summer. 

While it’s a fairly blatant attempt to “both sides” the attack their party played a significant role in catalyzing, there are also personal reasons for some GOP members to want to avoid a thorough investigation. As I wrote yesterday for members, McCarthy would almost certainly be called by the commission to testify about his mid-riot phone call with Trump — a good reason for him to duck reminders of the violence from both police officers who were there and a fellow member of GOP leadership who won’t let it go.

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