Tag: michael fanone
Gina Bisignano

"There Will Be Blood': New Indictment Exposes Capitol Rioters' Lust For Violence -- And Lying

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Most of the attention to the conspiracy prosecutions in the January 6 insurrection has been directed at the largest known (and overlapping) plots to besiege the Capitol involving the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys. But a fresh indictment handed down this week by a grand jury makes clear that there were multiple conspiracies unfolding that day.

According to the indictment, a trio of extremist Trump supporters from California traveled to Washington, in their own words, to “violently remove traitors” and “replace them with able bodied Patriots.” Embroiled with the mob on the Capitol’s western entrance, one of them tazed Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone into unconsciousness, while another encouraged the mob to climb in through broken windows; once inside, the trio trashed congressional offices.

And then, two days later, two of them appeared on Infowars’ “War Room” program with Owen Schroyer and claimed that they tried to prevent “antifa” activists disguised as Trump supporters from breaking windows, and insisted they were only there for peaceful protest. That interview, however, proved to be disastrous for them, after the apparent ringleader used the real name of one of her coconspirators, enabling investigators to identify and charge him.

The three people charged in the conspiracy all knew each other online before January 6, met up at the Stop the Steal rally before the siege and then traveled together to the Capitol, split apart somewhat while participating in the exterior attack, and then joined back up once inside the building. From there, the three of them ransacked at least one congressional office. They are:

  • Gina Bisignano, a beauty-salon owner from Beverly Hills who can be seen in photos from her participation in the Capitol siege wearing a Louis Vuitton sweater. Her name was redacted from the indictment and remains under court seal because she has entered into a cooperation agreement with prosecutors, but has been confirmed by multiplejournalists.
  • Daniel Rodriguez, a 38-year-old from Panorama City whose arrest in March primarily arose from his assaults on police officers at barricades, most notoriously his electroshock-device attack on Fanone. Rodriquez has subsequently attempted to claim that his confession to the FBI upon his arrest was obtained under duress.
  • Edward Badalian, a 26-year-old resident of North Hills, a suburban neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley. It was Badalian who, according to the indictment, sounded the most bloodthirsty of the trio, telling them beforehand in a Telegram thread: "We need to violently remove traitors and if they are in key positions rapidly replace them with able bodied Patriots.”

Badalian had not been previously identified or charged. Both Bisignano and Rodriguez were already under indictment for their actions on January 6, charged with obstructing Congress and a variety of other assault- and vandalism-related charges. Bisignano was granted conditional release back to her Beverly Hills home. Rodriguez, who was arrested in March after a HuffPost investigation revealed his identity as Fanone’s attacker, has remained in jail since.

Bisignano had already achieved viral notoriety even before the insurrection after a video released in December 2020 showed her spewing homophobic epithets and COVID denialism. Her business subsequently experienced an appropriately harsh backlash on social media. As Marcy Wheeler has reported, Bisignano has been working out a plea bargain with prosecutors that is part of a cooperation agreement, which was confirmed in this week’s indictment.

The three of them apparently met on a Telegram channel called “Patriots 45 MAGA Gang,” where they shared Trump-related conspiracy theories and agreed that action needed to be taken to prevent Trump from being unseated as president. “We gotta go handle this shit in DC so the crooked politicians don’t have an army of thugs threatening violence to back their malevolent cabal ways,” wrote Badalian in one thread.

“We are taking this shit back,” Badalian wrote in another thread. “Yeah, absolutely, yes,” Rodriguez replied.

In other conversations, Rodriguez told his cohorts that he would “assassinate Joe Biden” if he got the chance and “would rather die than live under a Biden administration.” On December 29, Rodriguez posted: “Congress can hang. I’ll do it. Please let us get these people dear God.”

The trio gathered weapons and gear—a stun gun, pepper spray, gas masks and walkie-talkies—in the weeks before January 6. Badalian and Rodriguez traveled together from California, and "joined a caravan" in Kentucky on Jan. 5 headed to the “Stop the Steal” event, setting up caravan communications with a radio app on cellphones. Bisignano flew out

When they arrived in Washington, Rodriguez texted his cohorts on Telegram: “There will be blood. Welcome to the revolution.”

All three, the evidence shows, played leading roles in assaulting police at the Capitol barricades, as well as in assisting the mob’s entry into the building through broken windows.

Ironically, two days after the Capitol siege, two of them went on the conspiracist Infowars program “War Room” with Owen Shroyer and claimed that “antifa” was responsible for heightening the violence and breaking windows. Badalian—using the nom de plume “Turbo”—and Bisignano, who just went by “Gina,” both used Bisignano’s video to show that members of the crowd had claimed that rioters wearing Trump gear and breaking windows were actually “antifa” activists in disguise, and they had tried to prevent them from attacking the Capitol.

During the interview, Bisignano accidentally blew Badalian’s cover by referring to him as “Ed.” (Both men then went to Bisignano’s home two days later, helped her destroy evidence, and warned her not to use their real names again.) That clue apparently helped investigators identify him eventually, and it is mentioned in the indictment.

But the episode also provides a window into how Alex Jones’ Infowars conspiracy mill is nothing more than a platform for people to go on air and just brazenly lie to the world. Because that is what both “Turbo” and “Gina” proceeded to do.

Badalian told Schroyer that the people smashing windows in the Capitol made him angry because “that’s like a symbol of America to me.” He thought their ranks had been “infiltrated.” When he grabbed the man, others asked him why he had, and he said he told them: “We’re not here to smash the building! We’re not here to destroy the property! We’re here for the traitors!”

He then claimed that it became “a wild situation after antifa escalated—with the cops.”

Bisignano claimed that she began taking footage from her perch on the same arched window then “so that we would have proof that they were breaking windows and being violent.” She said “it was obvious they were not Trump supporters even though it said Trump on his helmet.”

“To me, it was like, ‘We don’t want this. We don’t want violence,” Bisignano told Shroyer. “And they were like, ‘No, we gotta break the window.’ And I said, ‘No, this is not a good look for us.’”

She also claimed she had urged everyone to go home. “I even said, ‘Guys, we gotta go, Trump’s said all Patriots need to go home.’ And some of the people left, and some people are like, ‘We don’t believe it. We don’t believe Trump really tweeted that.’ I was just like, it’s not worth risking your life. Violence isn’t the answer. I was just begging them to stop.”

She concluded: “We were clearly there for a peaceful march. And a lot of the people that infiltrated that crowd obviously were not there for that.”

The reality of the trio’s vitriolic violence on January 6, however, is laid bare in their respective indictments. Bisignano in particular played a leading role in whipping the mob into a frenzy, her mindset evident in texts she sent—one, from the Ellipse, urging another person to “roll in force” to the Capitol, while another sent from the Capitol steps exulting that “the battle has begun.”

She and Rodriguez battled with police at entryways, during which Rodrguez hurled a flagpole and discharged a fire extinguisher at officers. Bisignano told the police: “Liberty or death, gentlemen!"

Once on the window ledge, Bisignano can be seen encouraging another insurrectionist bashing the window that had been previously hammered by the man Badalian had pulled away in the Infowars video. She yelled encouragement to other rioters: “Hold the line, gentlemen! Don’t surrender! Fight for Trump!” and “Push forward, Patriots! If you are gonna die, let it be on Capitol Hill!”

After the window was broken, she climbed through the opening and into the Capitol, followed by Rodriguez and Badalian.

Badalian’s claim that antifa was responsible for the January 6 violence is also belied by a text he had sent earlier in the day, as they were marching toward the Capitol: "We don't want to fight antifa lol we want to arrest traitors," he said.

Their supposed reverence for the Capitol is similarly belied by the actions they took once inside. The trio found themselves in a congressional office suite, so after Rodriguez announced they should look for “intel,” he and Bisignano began rifling through bags and papers. Rodriguez eventually made off with an emergency escape hood he found in the office.

Capitol Police Testimony Moves Fox Anchor, But Network’s Pundits Sneer

Capitol Police Testimony Moves Fox Anchor, But Network’s Pundits Sneer

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

When Fox News turned to Bret Baier for comment shortly after the conclusion of Tuesday's hearing of the House select committee investigating the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters, the network's chief political anchor was adamant that it would be impossible for anyone to downplay the devastating testimony heard that day. Over the previous several hours, four police officers had described in searing detail how they had risked their lives defending Congress from a violent, bigoted throng that sought to halt the counting of electoral votes formalizing President Joe Biden's election.

"If you were watching, you saw compelling, at times damning, emotional testimony from these four officers who fought the line to try to protect the Capitol and the lawmakers inside," Baier said. Highlighting the officers' descriptions of how they "fought to hold on to their lives," he added that while Republicans are trying to argue that the investigation is politically motivated, "you can't watch the testimony and say that's not a big deal."

Baier was describing an emerging consensus that is damaging to Republicans. But Fox exists in part to manufacture dissent, disrupting such consensuses with narratives that are more palatable to its right-wing audience. And so that evening, Baier's colleagues -- who helped lay the groundwork for the riots by trumpeting Donald Trump's baseless claims of a stolen 2020 election and then spent the last seven months downplaying and concocting justifications for the resulting insurrection -- went to work.

"We're being lectured by phony politicians about threats to our country," The Five co-host Greg Gutfeld sneered amid a whataboutist rant, going on to describe the January 6 Capitol riots as "having politicians' jobs disrupted for two hours." He added that the hearing was "a circus" and "a clown show."

Fox's star prime-time host Tucker Carlson literally snickered after playing a clip of Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone saying that he's "been left with psychological trauma and emotional anxiety" from the Capitol riots. (Fanone described being "grabbed, beaten, tased, all while being called a traitor to my country"; the assault resulted in a heart attack.)

Mocking the testimony of Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, who compared the riots to his Army deployment in Iraq, Carlson described the events of January 6 as follows: "Officers let the rioters into the Capitol. They had casual conversations with them inside the Senate Chamber. Some of the rioters had face paint and carried American flags."

Carlson also made fun of the emotionalresponses some members of the committee had to hearing the testimony.

Sean Hannity picked up the next hour where Carlson had left off, denouncing the investigation as a "political charade" with a "predetermined outcome" intended to "smear and slander" Trump and the Republican Party.

What followed was a parade of whataboutism, with Hannity and his guests highlighting how Democrats were fixated on the sacking of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob intent on stopping the peaceful transition of power rather than homicides in Chicago or violence at last year's protests against police brutality.

Later that night, from her platform on Fox's 10 p.m. ET hour, Laura Ingraham described the hearing as "nothing more than performance art." She went on to announce "The Angle awards for today's best performances," including the award for "best use of an exaggeration in a supporting role" to Gonell, "blatant use of partisan politics when facts fail" to Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, and "best performance in an action role" to Fanone.

Over the prime-time block, Carlson and Ingraham aired clips from the hearing only to mock the speakers, while Hannity bashed the event without actually airing clips from it.

Whether or not they watched the hearings as Baier did, Fox's right-wing propagandists did their best to leave their audiences thinking that the testimony that day was not actually a "big deal." And by this morning, the hearings had all but disappeared from the network's airwaves.

The same phenomenon has happened over and over again: Fox's "straight news" side describes events as damning for Republicans or helpful for Democrats, only for the "opinion side" to go into overdrive to hide that from its audience.

The cycle played out after professor Christine Blasey Ford testified that then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had attempted to rape her when they were in high school in the early 1980s. It happened again during the 2019 impeachment hearings over Trump's abuse of power in Ukraine. And it happened after Biden called for "uniting our nation" and ending "this uncivil war that pits red against blue" during his inaugural address.

Fox isn't in the business of telling its viewers what happened. It's in the business of telling them what they should think about what happened.

Research contributions from Will DiGravio

Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone reveals vicious voicemail to CNN.

LISTEN: Capitol Police Hero Receives Vile Trumpist Death Threats

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone testified before Congress on Tuesday that supporters of former President Donald Trump almost killed him in a violent beating at the Capitol insurrection on January 6, and to make matters worse someone left him a threatening voicemail message while he was giving his testimony. "It includes some incredibly offensive language, but we think people need to hear the kind of attacks that these officers are facing right now just for telling the truth about January 6," CNN host Don Lemon said. "Play it." An unnamed caller proceeded to accuse Fanone of lying, asking him if he wanted an Emmy or Oscar, and calling him an offensive slur.

Warning: Video in this story contains profane and highly offensive audio that may be triggering for some listeners.

The caller said in his disgusting message:

"Yeah, this is for Michael Fanone, Metropolitan Police officer. You're on trial right now, lying and not. You want an Emmy? An Oscar? What are you trying to go for here? You're so full of s---, you little f----- f---er. You're a little p----, man. I could slap you up the side of your head with a backhand and knock you out, you little f-----.
"You're a punk f-----. You're a lying f---. How about all that scummy Black f---ing scum for two years destroying our cities and burning 'em and stealing all that s--- out of the stores and everything? How about that? Assaulting cops and killing people? How about that, you f---er?
"That was s--- on the goddamn Capitol. I wish they would have killed all you scumbags, 'cause you people are scum. They stole the election from Trump and you know that, you scumbag. And you, f---ing too bad they didn't beat the s--- out of you more. You're a piece of s---. You're a little f--, you f---ing scumbag."

Fanone asked CNN not to censor the audio when the network played it. "I remember like my first reaction immediately after listening to that phone call, which I actually received while I was testifying in the hearing today," Fanone said. "This is what happens to people that tell the truth in Trump's America."

Fanone's body-camera footage showed the brutal attack he suffered at the hands of rioters, one of whom tased him amid shouts of "I got one," CNN reported in May. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn compared the insurrectionists to a hired hit man in his closing remarks Tuesday to the House committee investigating the riot. "If a hit man is hired and he kills somebody, the hit man goes to jail. But not only does the hit man go to jail, but the person who hired them does. It was an attack carried out on Jan. 6 and a hit man sent them. I want you to get to the bottom of that," Dunn said.

He was called the N-word multiple times when he revealed during the insurrection that he voted for President Joe Biden. Dunn said he told people to leave during the riot and was told: "No man, this is our house. President Trump invited us here. We're here to stop the steal. Joe Biden is not the president. Nobody voted for Joe Biden." Dunn told lawmakers he usually does his best to keep politics out of his job but in that circumstance, he responded. "'Well, I voted for Joe Biden. Does my vote not count? Am I nobody?'" Dunn said he asked rioters. "That prompted a torrent of racial epithets."

Prominent GOP commentators used less triggering language but bolstered the same sentiment of support for rioters. Fox News host Laura Ingraham mocked Fanone and Dunn on Tuesday. "The award for blatant use of partisan politics when facts fail—the Angle Award goes to Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn," she said. Of Fanone the Republican broadcaster said: "And for best performance in an action role, the winner is Michael Fanone."

Fox News' Tucker Carlson made similar remarks, mocking Fanone's trauma. "Not to in anyway underplay the crimes that were committed on January 6—and there were crimes on January 6— but compared to what," Carlson said.

Michael Fanone

#EndorseThis: Officer Pounds Table In Angry Testimony During Select Panel Hearing

The House Select Committee to investigate the January 6 Capitol insurrection began hearings today, and testimony from the officers who attempted to protect the symbol of democracy from an extremely violent group of pro-Trump rioters was even more emotional than expected.

Michael Fanone, a Metropolitan Police officer who was assaulted during the insurrection, pounded the table as his voice rose saying, "the indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful!"

He then told the committee that his law enforcement career prepared him to "cope with some of the aspects" of "otherwise law abiding citizens [taking] up arms against you." But "nothing has prepared me to address those elected members of our government who continue to deny the events of that day and in doing so betray their oath of office."

Watch Fanone's powerful testimony below: