ICYMI: His Fight Carries on After Jan. 6

Officer Michael Fanone: “Imagine the most traumatic thing that ever happened to you, and then you’ve got to go around for years convincing people what actually happened.” 

POLITICO, Emily Ngo, January 5, 2024:

For Michael Fanone, a former police officer brutalized three years ago by the mob that descended on the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 6 itself isn’t what causes distress.

“It’s everything that happened afterwards,” Fanone said in an interview. “Imagine the most traumatic thing that ever happened to you, and then you’ve got to go around for years convincing people what actually happened.”

The anniversary of the attack comes for the first time in a year when Donald Trump — who inspired the insurrection — will be on the ballot.

Fanone is spending it as part of a pressure campaign on Trump allies, including North Country Rep. Elise Stefanik, targeting her in an ad that was first shared with Playbook.

The former D.C. Metropolitan police officer, speaking over black coffee recently in Manhattan, is fatigued and hardened, but still working to wrestle back the narrative.

“I’d do it if I was the last person left fighting,” Fanone said. “I think it’s important that every institution in this country, every American, take the responsibility of upholding democracy seriously. And everyone needs to be doing everything that they can to ensure that a.) Donald Trump does not succeed and b.) the MAGA movement is extinguished.”

Fanone is the face of a 30-second TV ad — a six-figure buy by the Courage for America advocacy group — that will air in Stefanik’s 21st Congressional District beginning Saturday.

The spot features Fanone’s body camera footage from the Capitol riot. It opens with him stating, “Jan. 6, it was the closest that I ever came to dying.” Variations of the ad calling out other Republicans will air elsewhere in the country.

The New York version urges Stefanik, the fourth-ranking House Republican, to oppose the “American Confidence in Elections Act,” which would impact how states administer federal elections. Courage for America and Democrats call it “the Big Lie Bill.”

Stefanik, a Trump acolyte who voted to overturn the 2020 election results, is one of the 127 co-sponsors.

“I don’t feel like she’s a true believer, but at the same time, I’m at the point now where enablers are the same as active supporters,” Fanone said.

Stefanik has condemned the violence of the Jan. 6 attack, but she also filed a complaint last month alleging judicial misconduct by a federal judge overseeing some Jan. 6-related cases. A rising star in her party, Stefanik is expected to easily win reelection this year.

On Jan. 6, 2021, Fanone was beaten with a Blue Lives Matter flagpole and had a Taser used on his skull. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and a heart attack.

“I’ve seen what Donald Trump’s supporters are capable of firsthand,” he said. “And I recognize that anger because it existed inside of me in 2015, 2016.”

Fanone said he supported Trump then but plans to vote this year for President Joe Biden. He identifies as neither Democrat nor Republican.

“I’ve always been independent-minded,” he said. “I tell people all the time, like, I’m just an American.”