Home 2024 Elections Blue Virginia Interview with Officer Michael Fanone, an American Hero Severely Injured...

Blue Virginia Interview with Officer Michael Fanone, an American Hero Severely Injured on 1/6/21, Now Traveling America to Fight for Our Democracy

Fanone: "another Trump Administration means the end of democracy. And the likelihood of us getting it back, at least in our lifetimes in any recognizable fashion, is virtually zero."

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This afternoon, I had the privilege of speaking with Officer Michael Fanone, a true American hero who, on January 6, 2021, “was assaulted by rioters—dragged down the Capitol steps, beaten with pipes, stunned with a Taser, sprayed with chemical irritants, and threatened with his own gun. Fanone suffered burns, a heart attack, a concussion, a traumatic brain injury, and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the attack.” Some further background on Office Fanone:

  • “Alongside fellow officers Harry Dunn, Aquilino Gonell, and Daniel Hodges, Fanone testified before the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, in which he discussed his experiences with rioters that afternoon”
  • “Ahead of the second anniversary of the January 6 United States Capitol attack, Fanone wrote a letter, signed by more than 1,000 veterans, law enforcement, active military members and family, calling on Republican leadership in the United States House of Representatives to denounce political violence.”
  • “On January 6, 2023, Fanone was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Joe Biden”

As if all that wasn’t enough service to our country, Office Fanone is now traveling America – starting here in Virginia – speaking out regarding the ongoing threat to our democracy, and the urgent need to defend it. See below for a slightly condensed transcript of our chat, with parts that really jumped out at me highlighted in bold/blue. Thank you against to Office Fanone for his service, sacrifice, and dedication to the rule of law and to our nation.

Blue Virginia: Thanks for everything you’re doing; we need people to stand up for our democracy, which was under assault on January 6, 2021, and which continues to this day. I’m told you’re traveling across Virginia this week with Courage for America to help raise awareness about political violence, including around the 2024 election and January 6, 2025 certification of results. Can you give Blue Virginia readers some idea of what your main arguments are, and what we all should be doing right now?

Office Fanone: “First I’ll give you a little background on Courage for America – it’s a non for-profit…nonpolitical organization made up of average everyday Americans like myself who either professionally or personally – or in some instances both – have been adversely affected by political violence. Obviously, you know, my story stems from my career as a police officer and responding to the US Capitol on January 6 – and then the events that transpired afterwards in the form of a pretty brutal assault on myself and my colleagues. So we’re we’re here in Virginia…actually Virginia is just one stop in what I think ultimately will be pretty close to a nationwide tour. And I’m trying to draw attention to January 6, the violence that ensued that day, educate people about what happened through my experience, but also why January 6th happened. And the second portion is holding those politicians…accountable for their rhetoric when it inspires violence.”

Blue Virginia: So who are you speaking with – to groups of people or leaders, politicians?

Officer Fanone: “I mean, everybody from elected leaders – like I said, we met with Representative McClellan, we met with State Speaker Don Scott today. But we’re also meeting with community leaders, members of local law enforcement, students, universities. We were at Hampton yesterday, again just letting them know what happened on January 6, why it’s important. And, you know, you have politicians telling us every election cycle that this is the most important election of your lifetime and that democracy is on the ballot. Well I think…you need to hear it from individual Americans like myself who can really explain why this election is so important and why democracy really is on the ballot.”

Blue Virginia: And you voted for Trump in 2016, so I guess you used to be a Trump supporter and you moved from that to whatever – I’m not sure exactly what your politics are today. But does that give you more credibility, that you’re not coming out of where you were a leftist or a super liberal or anything like that? I mean, does that matter?

Officer Fanone: “I’ve always felt as though I was what I would have described as a moderate. I’ve been pretty transparent about my politics in 2016. You know, as a career police officer at that time I felt as though there was one party that supported law enforcement and one party that was anti-law enforcement. So that really was was my reasoning for voting for Donald Trump in 2016. In 2020, I voted for Joe Biden.”

Blue Virginia: So your views on on which party supports law enforcement and which party opposes law enforcement, have those changed at this point, would you say?”

Officer Fanone: “Well, I think it’s important to recognize that, at least in my opinion at this point in time, you have a Republican Party that is being or has been infiltrated by, I guess what we all have come to call the the MAGA extremist movement. And that’s not to…I still hold the you know those Republicans that don’t consider themselves to be MAGA Republicans responsible for their party’s actions. But that being said, it’s clear to me that the Republican Party of today does not support law enforcement, nor do they follow the rule of law.

Blue Virginia: Which is crucial – without the rule of law you don’t have a democracy. So here in Virginia, you have Republicans like Glenn Youngkin who I guess would argue he’s not MAGA per se. Youngkin said that the January 6th assault on our Capital was a “blight on our democracy,” but he also was pledged to support the guy – Donald Trump – who was behind that assault if he’s the Republicans’ 2024 Presidential nominee, which is almost certain at this point. So, I mean, what is that all about?

Officer Fanone: “Well, at this point, it’s not enough to politically distance yourself from MAGA. You need to be calling out extremist rhetoric. You need to be calling out violent rhetoric at every opportunity. And I think it’s important journalists in this country to continue to ask Republicans whether they agree with the statements made by their party’s leader – every Republican, whether you’re a local council person or in the national government – should have to answer every time Donald Trump commends those that assaulted police officers at the Capitol on January 6. Every time he praises those individuals and refers to them as political prisoners or hostages, when he plays the January 6 choir at all of his political rallies. Or when he makes statements referring to himself as as a dictator.”

Blue Virginia: So if you’re a Republican like Glenn Youngkin or Chris Sununu or John Thune or whoever, and you’re endorsing or saying you’ll endorse Trump, but then try to claim they’re they’re sort of moderates or something like that, that’s not credible, right? I mean, if you’re supporting a guy who tried to overthrow our democracy and is still trying to do that, is there any way you can possibly claim that you’re not an extremist yourself against our democracy? I don’t really  understand how that works exactly, it’s kind of baffling to me.

Officer Fanone: “Listen, Chris Sununu lost me when he said that, despite his distaste for Donald Trump, that he would ultimately support him if he was the nominee. So that, I think, says pretty much everything that you need to know about Chris Sununu and any Republican that’s willing to support Donald Trump as the party’s nominee. And that’s why, you have people that may be active members of MAGA, but you also have Republicans who passively support MAGA and they do so by not taking these opportunities to call out Donald Trump, to call out this extremist rhetoric, the extremist ideology of MAGA, the racist, bigoted  ideology of MAGA – and in doing so, are passively supporting.

Blue Virginia: I guess the saying is, ‘evil flourishes when good people do nothing’. Or in this case, I think it’s worse than nothing, because they’re actually saying they’re going to endorse Trump. Then you have things like this ‘Big Lie Resolution,’ which expresses the sense of the House that Trump did not engage in insurrection or rebellion. OK…

Officer Fanone: “Matt Gaetz is a clown, right? He’s not a serious person and I certainly don’t take him seriously. He’s a person who I believe has a whole host of personal troubles and so he has ingratiated himself to Donald Trump in the hopes of, kind of the last-ditch effort to salvage his political career. I find him disgusting as an American, and quite frankly as a human being. The Big Lie bill, the dangerousness of this and anyone that would lend themselves to signing such a document – the Big Lie is what inspired so many Americans, so many of our fellow countrymen to storm the Capitol on January 6 and attack members of law enforcement.

Blue Virginia: They believed it!

Officer Fanone: Exactly. And, listen, I have a very difficult time finding any compassion or empathy for those individuals, but I do recognize the fact that for the first time in my lifetime a president of the United States told his supporters that an election was stolen – without any evidence to support it – and then trashed all the institutions in this country that are charged with ensuring that a) the election was secure, which it was and b) to investigate the results of the election. He trashed judges appointed by Republicans and Democrats alike, who said that there was no fraud in the election. And then we later learned that the only fraud committed was by Donald Trump himself and his supporters in an attempt to subvert democracy and overthrow or overturn the results of a free and fair election. So when we talk about the 147 members of Congress that voted not to certify the election, I refer to them as insurrectionists. Because that’s exactly what took place was insurrection. Those individuals made a conscious decision to not certify an election as is their constitutional responsibility with absolutely no evidence that that election was fraudulent. And so in my mind, that action in and of itself was the action of an insurrection.”

Blue Virginia: Which brings you to the 14th Amendment, section three – should these people be able to serve? I mean, according to that amendment…you are disqualified automatically from serving in any state or federal office. Do you think that’s the case?

Officer Fanone: “With absolutely no reservation, yes. I believe that that is the case. I do not believe that anyone who participated in the violence of the day or who contributed to the events that inspired the day, whether it was by casting a vote against the certification of the election peddling Donald Trump’s lies; lending the credibility and authority of their offices to those lies; and then in return inspiring thousands of Americans to commit crimes  – many of whom are now suffering in prison because of that.”

Blue Virginia: And here in Virginia, our entire US House delegation, all the Republicans – Wittman, Cline, Griffith and Good all voted not to certify the election. And then you have Bob Good is being challenged actually from his right, if that’s even possible, by John McGuire, who was actually outside of the Capitol on January 6, 2021 –  I don’t think he went inside, but there are pictures of him outside the Capitol on January 6th as part of the violent mob. Bob Good’s a co-sponsor of the ‘Big Lie resolution’; Jen Kiggans hasn’t made her official position clear, she’s trying to have it both ways. So should anyone support these people; I mean, if the 14th Amendment isn’t going to disqualify them, what else can we do besides just oppose them and everyone vote against them, I guess, and get the word out about that they’re perpetuating the Big Lie…

Officer Fanone: “Listen, ultimately at the end of the day, each and every one of us is responsible for preserving democracy in this country. And the most readily available mechanism that we have is is casting a vote. We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to future generations. I tell people all the time, every election cycle is not necessarily about you. Sometimes your issues that you hold dear, some election cycles are about the future. And as a father of four daughters, I recognize that wholeheartedly. That being said, I also think, as someone who’s been told my entire adult life that every election is the most important election of my life, this one certainly is. And it’s because democracy really is on the ballot. I’ve talked to a lot of younger people, students who feel  disillusioned or disenfranchised by politicians in general. And I completely understand that. And it’s not to say that they don’t have issues that they’re passionate about – most of them do and they just feel like they’re not heard. What I tell them is in a democracy, you have the ability to advocate for those positions and effect change. You do not have that ability in an autocracy. And that’s what we have on the ballot – we’ve got a choice between a tyrant and an autocrat and someone who believes in democracy. So to me, the choice is clear.”

Blue Virginia: Right, and they have a plan this time…Trump and his minions have four years of experience; this time they’ve developed and are still developing a plan. From day one, they’re going it will be much much worse than the first Trump term; they will pretty much start off where they left off and it will just get worse, much much worse…

Officer Fanone: “Like Matt Gaetz’s resolution, I mean essentially what that was, is just the first line of it there’s something in there about how it’s a a Trump loyalty test. That’s what this is all about. Trump learned last time, he was prevented from doing the things that were required for him to illegally hold on to office by career public servants, by the Department of Justice, by all these different entities. Well, he knows right away, the first thing he’s going to do is fire all of those people, replace them with Trump loyalists. And so he won’t have to worry about any obstacles to maintaining power. And I truly believe that it’s not just that a four-year Trump Administration would be horrible for America, it’s that another Trump Administration means the end of democracy. And the likelihood of us getting it back, at least in our lifetimes in any recognizable fashion, is virtually zero.”

Blue Virginia: Yeah, it’s really horrifying. I mean, in the past, if Reagan won or Bush won or whoever, it didn’t feel like democracy was going to end. You could agree with one, disagree with the other – strongly even – but it didn’t feel like democracy was going to end. But this time, it really really does. And I don’t know if people are internalizing that fully, but I think you getting out there and talking about what you went through – you have a great deal of credibility – if that doesn’t bring it home for people, I don’t know what will. But anyway, I appreciate your time; this has been really helpful. Good luck on the rest of your travels and your work.

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