Two House members – a Republican and a Democrat – on Wednesday accused GOP congressman Andrew Clyde of refusing to shake hands with Michael Fanone, a police officer who was injured during the 6 January Capitol riots.
Mr Clyde, who has previously compared the Capitol riot to “a normal tourist visit”, was also among the 21 House Republicans who on Tuesday voted against awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the officers who defended the Capitol.
Tweeting about the alleged encounter between Mr Fanone and Mr Clyde, Democrat congressman Eric Swalwell wrote: “Fanone introduced himself as ‘someone who fought to defend the Capitol’ and put out his hand. Clyde refused to shake it.
“To honour Trump, [House GOP] will dishonour the police,” he added.
Republican representative Adam Kinzinger also took to Twitter saying that he called Mr Fanone and confirmed his story. “This is really incredible,” he wrote. “Also relayed an interaction he had with another members Chief of Staff that was really incredibly bad and disrespectful (sic).”
Mr Fanone, who was stun-gunned and beaten with a flagpole by supporters of Donald Trump during the insurrection, suffering a concussion and a heart attack in the process, has been a vocal critic of Republicans for downplaying the assault.
He had returned to the Capitol on Wednesday in an effort to meet the 21 House Republicans who had voted against formally recognising the officers involved in protecting the Capitol Building during the riot, reported the Washington Post.
Mr Fanone was with Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn when he jumped in an elevator with Mr Clyde. “I simply extended my hand and said, ‘How are you doing today, Congressman.’ I knew immediately he recognised me by the way he reacted. He completely froze. He just stared at me,” he told the paper.
The Republican representative did not shake his hand, Mr Fanone said, and instead responded saying: “I don’t know who you are.”
Mr Fanone said that even after he told him about being an officer who was injured during the Capitol riots, Mr Clyde’s “response was nothing”.
“He turned away from me, pulled out his cellphone and started thumbing through the apps,” he said, adding that the Republican bolted out of the door as soon as they opened.
The officer also shared details of what he described as a hostile encounter with James Braid, chief of staff for Republican representative Matthew Rosendale.
Mr Fanone said that Mr Braid was “super confrontational” and asked for his badge number, even after he told him he has provided his email address and telephone number.
While Mr Clyde’s office has so far not commented on the incident, Mr Rosendale’s spokesperson confirmed Mr Fanone’s meeting with Mr Braid. His office, however, denied the suggestion that the exchange was adversarial.
Representative Kinzinger was one of the few House Republicans to have voted to impeach Mr Trump following the Capitol riots, and he slammed Mr Clyde for his behaviour towards Mr Fanone.
“Every now and again I think we have to be at the bottom of how low we can get,” he told the Washington Post. “You don’t have to admit you should have voted for [the Gold Medal] by shaking a guy’s hand. The presence of these heroes can make some people uncomfortable.”
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