FIRST ON FOX: Former President Trump and his top Republican primary opponents are taking fire this week from one former police officer who is calling their rhetoric surrounding federal law enforcement “disgraceful” and accusing them of “turning their backs” on police across the country three years after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol protest.
Michael Fanone, who served with the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and gained national recognition for his sharp criticism of Trump and Republicans after his brutal beating at the hands of some of the protesters on Jan. 6, told Fox that the GOP White House hopefuls are ignoring the sacrifices of law enforcement with their rhetoric about that day and for their calls to cut funding for the FBI.
Fanone’s criticism, joined by scathing comments from national Democrats, comes at the start of what is expected to be a contentious election year and just days ahead of the first presidential primary contests.
“Three years ago, insurrectionists at the behest of Donald Trump ransacked our Capitol, threatened elected officials, and assaulted law enforcement officers. Our country was shaken to its core and our democracy was brought to the brink of ruin,” Fanone told Fox.
“Jan. 6 will forever go down as one of the darkest days in our history, but it could have been even worse if not for the courage and sacrifices made by police that day – sacrifices that GOP presidential candidates are happy to ignore when they want to talk about ‘backing the blue,'” he said.
Fanone said he and his colleagues “who stood up to the hateful mob” were defending democracy and that history would remember them as heroes in contrast to Republicans, who he accused of attempting to “whitewash the insurrection.”
“Some of them are even talking about defunding federal law enforcement simply because they are holding criminals accountable for their behavior. These politicians continue to bend both knees to the man who incited the mob in the first place. Actions speak louder than words; it is disgraceful and a slap in the face to my colleagues who risked their lives to protect and defend our democracy,” he added.
Echoing Fanone, national Democrats are also taking aim at the GOP front-runners, accusing them of “pretending to care about ‘law and order’ when they continue to side with Jan. 6 rioters.”
“While MAGA candidates have been trying to score political points by shouting about crime, embracing insurrectionists and violent criminals has now become a litmus test in the 2024 GOP primary,” Democrat National Committee spokesperson Sarafina Chitika told Fox.
“Instead of ‘backing the blue,’ Trump and the GOP field have threatened to defund federal law enforcement and failed to denounce the criminals who attacked the heroes protecting the Capitol during one of our nation’s darkest moments. Every single MAGA Republican who continues to stand with violent insurrectionists is not only a threat to our democracy, but is also making it clear they won’t stand up for law enforcement when it counts,” she added.
Trump has promised to pardon those present on Jan. 6 who faced charges should he win the presidential race this year, and in recent months he has referred to those imprisoned as “hostages.” He’s also been a vocal critic of the FBI and has encouraged members of Congress to cut its funding.
“Republicans in Congress should defund the DOJ and FBI until they come to their senses. The Democrats have totally weaponized law enforcement in our country and are viciously using this abuse of power to interfere with our already under siege elections!” he wrote in a post on Truth Social last year.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has also said he will consider pardons for those charged in connection to Jan. 6, and last year, he called the millions in funding awarded by Congress to the Capitol Police following the protest “ridiculous.”
“I think it’s ridiculous how much money that they pumped in for the Capitol Police. It was not an insurrection. These are people that were there to attend a rally, and then they were there to protest,” he said.
Like DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has also avoided referencing Jan. 6 as an “insurrection,” instead calling it a “sad day in America” during a recent interview.
While the Biden administration has sought to invest billions in local law enforcement, including $37 billion as part of his fiscal 2023 budget request, Americans consistently view Republicans as the preferred party to handle safety-related issues, such as crime.
According to FBI crime statistics, crime rates across the country as a whole have dropped from the third quarter 2022 to the third quarter 2023. However, a recent Heritage Foundation study found murder rates were higher in counties run by Democrats compared to those run by Republicans.
Fox has reached out to Trump, Haley and DeSantis for comment.