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D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, who was brutally attacked by Donald Trump supporters during the assault on the U.S. Capitol, said the newly released FBI interview with the assailant who drove a stun gun into Fanone’s neck on Jan. 6 illustrates how the former president “manipulated” his followers.
“If you look at that and you can’t see the direct correlation between Donald Trump and his supporters’ quote-unquote ‘political speak’ and their actions on Jan. 6, you’re an idiot,” Fanone told HuffPost on Wednesday.
Danny Rodriguez, a 39-year-old California man who was wearing a “Make American Great Again” hat when he was filmed electroshocking Fanone on Jan. 6, was arrested on March 31, one month after he was named in a HuffPost story. While he’s locked up in jail awaiting trial, Rodriguez’s federal public defenders have been trying to get his confession to the FBI tossed on the claim that Rodriguez wasn’t properly advised of his Miranda rights.
Rodriguez was named in a new indictment along with his friend Ed Badalian, who went by “Trump Ed” online, as well as with an unnamed California man whom online sleuths have nicknamed “Swedish Scarf.” All three men went through a broken window that day and raided the Capitol building, and later celebrated the attack at an Airbnb in Virginia with other Trump supporters, many from the Los Angeles area.
In a video released this week, Rodriguez repeatedly cries and confesses to electroshocking Fanone after he was picked up by the FBI. Rodriguez describes himself as “not smart,” “so stupid,” “an asshole, and a “fucking piece of shit” during the interview. One of the FBI special agents who questioned Rodriguez told him he should speak to them because “antifa, [Black Lives Matter] and The Huffington Post” were “telling the Danny Rodriguez story” and he needed to tell his side of what happened on Jan. 6.
Fanone said that although Rodriguez may look pathetic in his interview, it still illustrates just how close the country came to an even worse outcome on Jan. 6.
“They take a Danny Rodriguez interview, and they see that oh, this guy’s a moron. He’s a sad person who’s kind of pathetic in a way, and they think, ‘How bad could Jan. 6 really have been?’” Fanone said. “They’re not looking at the big picture. This was an orchestrated event. Despite the fact that most of the people on the ground are buffoons, so what? There are 15,000 of them.”
Fanone said Rodriguez’s confession video is also an example of how Trump supporters were “manipulated” by the former president’s lies about a stolen election.
“I hold no fucking grudges towards him whatsoever, because in Danny Rodriguez, I see a lot of people that I know,” Fanone told HuffPost. “He’s a moron and a misfit, and he was like many people looking for camaraderie, looking for something to belong to.”
The FBI has made more than 675 arrests in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, a figure that represents roughly one-fourth of the total number of potential defendants who engaged in chargeable criminal activity that day. The FBI’s website features images of more than 350 rioters wanted for violence, including more than 250 who assaulted law enforcement officers.
Fanone said there’s a “clear pattern” in Jan. 6 cases of Trump supporters taking actions they believe were justified because they actually believed Trump’s lies about mass voter fraud.
“I want accountability for Danny Rodriguez. Not just for what he did to Michael Fanone, but for what he did to Officer Michael Fanone,” Fanone said. “He was attacking a police officer who was protecting the Capitol and trying to protect members of Congress and democracy, and he came there to subvert that on behalf of Donald Trump.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.