An intensely uncomfortable clip featuring Michael Fanone, the Washington cop who was attacked by rioters on January 6, suffered a heart attack, sustained a brain injury, and nearly died at the scene. He’s recovered now and has been on a mission on the Hill to keep Republicans from whitewashing the reality of how bad the insurrection was. Yesterday the House voted overwhelmingly to award the Congressional Gold Medal to police forces who responded to the riot and defended the Capitol. Overwhelmingly, but not unanimously: 21 Republicans voted no, mainly MAGA populists like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, and Andy Biggs. Asked afterward why a movement that makes such a show of backing the blue would decline to recognize the cops for their heroism, they offered pretexts focused on the language of the resolution, objecting to the words “temple” or “insurrection.”
In reality, they voted no because it’s good politics in ruby red districts to show solidarity with the insurrectionists and this was a way to do it while maintaining a degree of plausible deniability.
One of the 21 no votes came from Andrew Clyde, a freshman from Georgia who replaced Doug Collins in the House after Collins ran unsuccessfully for Senate last year. Clyde’s district is R+30 in partisan orientation, among the reddest in the country. And since he’s a freshman without a ton of name recognition, he’s more vulnerable in a potential primary than a longtime incumbent is.
Clyde has a particular problem when it comes to the insurrection too. Photos taken on January 6 show him assisting the police in barricading the House chamber and wearing a look of terror on his face as rioters attempted to breach the doors:
The Rep. Clyde news reminded me of this:
UNITED STATES – JANUARY 6: Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., second from top left, helps barricade the House chamber door as rioters disrupt the joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral College vote on January 6, 2021. pic.twitter.com/ewizgiuwLn
— Tom Williams (@pennstatetom) May 15, 2021
Andrew Clyde (@rep_clyde), the person screaming at the far left of this photo, is the person who recently likened the brutal, wildly out of control, deadly violent Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol to overthrow the will of the people, to a "normal tourist visit." pic.twitter.com/bs4twxu1lZ
— Bryan Smith (@bryrsmith) May 18, 2021
That doesn’t look like a man who was on the side of the Heroic Patriots hoping to hang Mike Pence and overturn the election. And a man who wasn’t on that side might be suspect in a R+30 district.
So Clyde has set about trying to whitewash the riot after the fact. He voted against awarding a Congressional Gold Medal to the cops. He voted against a January 6 commission too, of course. Last month, during a congressional hearing, he infamously said, “Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes, taking videos and pictures. You know, if you didn’t know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.” The “tourist visit” comment is what inspired people to start posting the photos of him on January 6 in obvious fear for his life.
But the icing on the cake is the story Fanone tells in the clip below, of encountering Clyde in the Capitol yesterday and introducing himself, only to have allegedly been given the cold shoulder. Curiously, Fanone says Clyde began fumbling for his phone as if he wanted to record the conversation once he realized who Fanone was. Did he think Fanone was going to threaten him? Or did he just want to preserve the evidence of him pushing back against Fanone’s criticisms of the insurrection if the conversation went in that direction, with an eye to leaking the audio later?
Reporters contacted Clyde’s office today for comment and that didn’t go great either:
Just called @Rep_Clyde's office after multiple attempts since yesterday. I asked for his press secretary and heard a female voice say, "Tell her I'm in a meeting." I told him that I'd heard her. He paused and then said, "She is not going to take your call."
— Colby Itkowitz (@ColbyItkowitz) June 17, 2021
“I’m not here to make this a political issue – it just so happens that one party is lying about what thousands of officers experienced that day,” Fanone said to CNN this morning. Democrats are trying to parlay this into a “the GOP hates cops” message but that’s a hard sell to voters considering Republicans aren’t the ones with a faction committed to defunding the police. “I hope that every police officer that has gone to other members of Congress here asking why they voted no yesterday went to the Democrat members’ office who wanted to remove their qualified immunity, who wanted to make them personally liable for doing their job,” Lauren Boebert told Politico when asked about Fanone’s lobbying.
Here he is last night describing his encounter with Clyde. A more seasoned pol would have shook his hand and gladhanded him with excuses about the language of the resolution, but as I say, Clyde is a freshman.