In the months since the U.S. Capitol assault, Donald Trump has led the GOP efforts to distort and dismiss the realities of the anti-democratic and deadly riot that the former president himself instigated.
In his retelling, Ashli Babbitt—who was shot and killed trying to enter the House chamber on Jan. 6—wasn’t so much a rioter as she was an “innocent, wonderful, incredible woman.” And, in Trump’s mind, some of the police officers who defended the Capitol that day aren’t the real heroes, calling them liberal “pussies” who loathe MAGA, and outliers within a broadly pro-Trump law enforcement community.
In private discussions this summer, Trump has told some people close to him that several of these officers strike him as weak and as “pussies,” according to two sources familiar with the comments and who described them independently. Trump has also maintained that these men seem “broke[n]” by the events of Jan. 6, and that they do not have the supposed toughness or character of the law enforcement officers who, on the whole nationally, still widely support Trump and his policies.
According to these two people, and another source with knowledge of the matter, the twice-impeached former president has also alleged that these particular police officers are letting themselves be used as pawns by anti-Trump Democrats, like Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), or simply despise Trump and are Democrats themselves.
However, there have been times when the ex-president has expressed some measure of pity for these men, saying that he feels sorry for them—but mostly because Trump thinks they’re being used or exploited by his political foes, the person with knowledge of the situation said.
A Trump spokeswoman did not provide comment on this story by Thursday evening.
Some of these officers, including D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, testified on Tuesday in front of the House special committee on Jan. 6 about their experiences facing down the Trumpist mob.
These conversations occurred weeks before the Capitol Hill hearing this week, which included testimony from multiple officers. But those who testified had been vocal for months about Jan. 6.
Fanone, in particular, has been visible in recent months, speaking out about the lingering trauma from that day and his frustration with GOP leaders as many of their rank and file members have followed Trump’s lead and gone all-in on Jan. 6 revisionist history. Another D.C. police officer who testified this week, Officer Daniel Hodges, previously described the attack as a “white nationalist insurrection.”
Fanone did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast about Trump’s private comments.
While the former president belittled the officers who tried to fend off the attack he fomented, members of his party have struggled to settle on how exactly to balance their fealty to Trump with their “back the blue” sloganeering.
The bulk of Republican lawmakers have alternately ignored or insulted the police officers who have spoken out. Some have been totally comfortable impugning the integrity of those who did testify on Tuesday—not as crudely as Trump did, but in conspiratorial tones he likely appreciated.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), who was nominated by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to serve on the Jan. 6 panel until Pelosi vetoed the selection, appeared on Fox News on Tuesday night and suggested that the officers were reading from scripts prepared by the speaker.
“Even the statements that these police officers read, you could tell at times they didn’t write the statements,” Banks claimed. “They were merely reading them as they stumbled over some of the words that they weren’t familiar with as they were reading.”
Most Republicans, however, have chosen a safer path: simply not engaging with the testimony, in an attempt to…