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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Thursday that he’s now willing to meet with a U.S. Capitol Police officer who’s furious that Republican lawmakers are trying to rewrite history and portray the deadly pro-Donald Trump insurrection as a walk in the park.
McCarthy made the statement at a Police Week event at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington when he was pressed about reports that his staffers had hung up on Officer Michael Fanone when he called to talk with the congressman about his experiences on Jan. 6.
McCarthy said he had just learned the previous day that Fanone had called his office and wanted to meet. “I would like to meet with him,” he said. McCarthy called what happened on Jan. 6 “atrocious.”
Fanone, a 19-year police veteran, suffered a heart attack after he was dragged down stairs, beaten with pipes and repeatedly shocked with stun guns during the Capitol riot. The attack was captured on shocking footage from his bodycam that was shown Wednesday night on CNN.
“It’s been very difficult seeing elected officials ... whitewash the events that day,” Fanone said in a CNN interview last month. (Check out this interview in the video above.)
“I experienced a group of individuals that were trying to kill me,” he said, choking back tears. “I experienced the most brutal, savage, hand-to-hand combat of my entire life.”
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) sent a letter signed by 105 other lawmakers to McCarthy on Thursday demanding that he meet with Fanone after the “upset” officer complained to him that McCarthy’s staffers had hung up on him.
A McCarthy staff member denied that Fanone was cut off and said he had been given the email of someone to contact.
The battle over alternative narratives about the Capitol riot is growing even more pitched in the wake of the ejection Wednesday of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from her House leadership position for condemning the riot and for not endorsing the GOP’s defense of “the big lie” that the presidential election was rigged.
Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) claimed on the House floor Wednesday that the Jan. 6 riot “looked like a normal tourist visit” to the Capitol.
It’s a gargantuan challenge for Republican lawmakers, however, to convince millions of Americans that they didn’t actually see what they saw as they sat glued to their computer or TV screens on Jan. 6.
Also on HuffPost
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.