Rep. Andrew S. Clyde (R-Ga.), who voted against awarding police officers the Congressional Gold Medal for their bravery in protecting the U.S. Capitol against violent, pro-Trump rioters Jan. 6, refused to shake hands with D.C. police officer Michael Fanone on Wednesday, according to two lawmakers.
Fanone was beaten unconscious after he voluntarily rushed to the Capitol to help defend it from those who breached the building. He suffered a concussion and a mild heart attack. In the months since, Fanone has been one of the leading voices pushing back against Republicans who have sought to downplay the severity of Jan. 6.
Fanone returned to the Capitol on Wednesday, the day after 21 House Republicans voted against the Gold Medal resolution, in an effort to meet them and tell his story. He happened upon Clyde in an elevator.
Fanone introduced himself to Clyde as one of the officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6 and extended his hand, but Clyde didn’t shake it, according to Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), who both tweeted about it.
“#BREAKING Officer Fanone just ran into Rep_Clyde at Capitol (he’s the “Jan 6 was a typical tour” guy). Fanone introduced himself as “someone who fought to defend the Capitol” and put out his hand. Clyde refused to shake it. To honor Trump, HouseGOP will dishonor the police,” Swalwell tweeted.
“I just called Officer Fanone and confirmed this story,” tweeted Kinzinger. “This is really incredible. Also relayed an interaction he had with another members Chief of Staff that was really incredibly bad and disrespectful.”
Fanone did not respond to a request for comment. Clyde’s office also did not immediately respond.
Clyde, in addition to voting against the Gold Medal honor, said at a hearing last month on the Jan. 6 attack that the images from the day look like a “normal tourist visit.”
Rep. Matthew M. Rosendale (R-Mont.) was also among the 21 Republicans who voted against the Gold Medal.
Kinzinger, in an interview, said Fanone told him it was Rosendale’s chief of staff, James Braid, who was rude to Fanone when the officer asked to speak with the congressman.
Rosendale’s spokesman, Harry Fones, confirmed that Fanone stopped by the office and met with Braid, but said it wasn’t an adversarial exchange.
“Two men came into our office, unannounced, one dressed in plainclothes and one in uniform including a firearm. Our chief politely asked if they were on duty and for their names as well as badge number, since we had individuals that had now entered our office, unannounced with a firearm and dressed as an officer,” Fones said.
Fones says they wouldn’t give their badges numbers, but Fanone, who was in plainclothes, gave his name and email address. Fones said Braid told them they could meet with the congressman soon.
“Our office intends to follow up on that promise if they reach out,” Fones said.
‘Normal tourist visit’: Republicans recast deadly Jan. 6 attack by pro-Trump mob
Kinzinger, who has been among the most outspoken in his party against efforts to challenge the 2020 presidential election results and those who have refused to back an independent commission to investigate the insurrection, said it’s a terrible blow to law enforcement officers who risked their lives that day not to feel supported by some of the men and women they protected.
“Every now and again I think, we have to be at the bottom of how low we can get,” Kinzinger said. “You don’t have to admit you should have voted for [the Gold Medal] by shaking a guy’s hand. The presence of these heroes can make some people uncomfortable.”