Kevin McCarthy's staff were accused of hanging up on a DC cop who defended the Capitol from rioters and wants the GOP to take it seriously

·3 min read
A side-by-side composite image showing Officer Michael Fanone and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
(L) Officer Michael Fanone (R) House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy CNN / Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters
  • Kevin McCarthy's staff are accused of hanging up on a police officer who defended the Capitol on January 6.

  • Officer Michael Fanone described the "indifference" of Congress to the riot as "disgraceful."

  • A spokesperson for McCarthy denied staffers had hung up on him.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Staffers for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy are accused of hanging up on a police officer who defended the Capitol on January 6 and who is campaigning for Congress to properly recognize what happened.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democrat, tweeted Wednesday an account from officer Michael Fanone of the DC Metropolitan Police, whom he said was "very upset" at being "hung up on" by McCarthy's staff.

"It's #PoliceWeek and for weeks Ofc. Fanone has made multiple requests to talk to @GOPLeader. He wants to show McCarthy what he experienced on 1/6. Today he was hung up on by McCarthy's staff," read the tweet.

Responding to the resulting uproar, McCarthy said he did not realize Fanone called and that he wanted to meet with him.

"I just found out about this yesterday that he called the office. He called [my district's] office and they gave him the name of my scheduler to schedule a meeting," McCarthy told reporters Thursday. "I'd like to meet with him."

Fanone, who had a heart attack during the riot and suffered PTSD after, has made multiple public appeals to get Congress to acknowledge the severity of the events of January 6.

Capitol Riot bodycam
A still from the bodycam footage of DC Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone. CNN

McCarthy initially condemned the attack vigorously in January, and cast blame on former President Donald Trump.

He has dramatically changed his position recently. In April, he defended former President Donald Trump's actions on the day of the attack.

The row comes as Republican lawmakers are increasingly downplaying the effects of the riot. During a House hearing on Wednesday, several representatives made comments questioning the level of Trump support amid the crowd, Axios reported.

One lawmaker, Georgia Rep. Andew Clyde, flat-out denied there had been an insurrection, according to Axios. "There was no insurrection," he said, likening the rioters to tourists. "To call it an insurrection is a bold-faced lie."

Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger has recently accused McCarthy of having given up on his prior concerns about heated rhetoric.

On May 5, Kinzinger tweeted an open letter from Fanone, saying the riot "cannot be ignored or denied."

"The indifference shown to my colleagues and I is disgraceful," Fanone wrote.

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McCarthy's spokesperson Michele Perez Exner tweeted that staff had not hung up on Fanone. He said that Fanone spoke to staff and was offered an email address to write to.

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Since the attack, Fanone has been outspoken about his experiences during the breaching of the Capitol, speaking to numerous outlets including The Washington Post and CNN's Don Lemon.

In late April, he told Lemon how he still felt the effects long after his physical recovery. "I experienced the most brutal, savage hand-to-hand combat of my entire life, let alone my policing career, which spans almost two decades," he said.

On Wednesday, his bodycam footage was televised. The clip shows the press of rioters attacking Fanone, with one shouting "I got one!" as he was hurt.

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