Sandra Garza, the longtime partner of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died shortly after the Jan. 6 attack, accused Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., of being "very disrespectful" during a meeting about a commission proposal that was rejected by Republicans.
Sicknick died on Jan. 7 last year, one day after fending off Trump supporters at the Capitol. The officer suffered two strokes and died of natural causes, though the medical examiner ruled that the events of Jan. 6 had "played a role" in his death. Garza, along with Sicknick's mother, Gladys, and two officers who survived the riot, later lobbied Congress to create an independent commission to investigate the siege.
Garza joined former D.C. Police Officer Michael Fanone, who was badly injured by the rioters, and other officers involved in the response in meeting with Republican senators in May. Most of those senators told the officers how "tragic" they found the attack, thanked them for their service and made eye contact during the meeting, according to the New York Times. But Graham's behavior upset Garza to the point where she confronted him, she told the outlet.
As Fanone recounted the attack he survived, Graham appeared "bored and distracted," she said. "I said, 'I feel like you're being very disrespectful, and you're looking out the window and tapping your fingers on the desk,'" she recalled.
Another senator present at the meeting told Garza that she was "misreading" Graham's body language, which only "infuriated" her more, she told the Times.
Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, who also attended the meetings, told the outlet he was equally angry that the Republican senators refused to commit to doing the "minimum" in response to the attack. Graham, who made a "big show of how angry" he was with the riot, opposed the commission, he recalled. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., who was also in the meeting, told the officers that while he and Graham agreed that there should be "accountability" for the attack, they would not back an independent commission, Dunn told the Times.
Graham said after the meeting that he had a "very productive" discussion with Garza and the officers but opposed the commission because it would "turn into a partisan food fight."
Garza after the meetings slammed Republican senators as "all talk and no action." She also recalled confronting Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who has repeatedly downplayed the riot. "For them to vote 'no' — it's not protecting law enforcement," Garza told the Washington Post. "And more importantly, it's not protecting our democracy."
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The proposed commission died on Capitol Hill due to Republican opposition, leading House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to create a select bipartisan committee to investigate the attack. But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pulled all Republicans from the panel after Democrats balked at his selection of election conspiracists like Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, to the commission. Pelosi ultimately appointed Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., both of whom voted to impeach Trump for inciting the riot, as the only Republicans on the committee.
In another interview ahead of the one-year anniversary of the riot and Sicknick's death, Garza said that she and Sicknick had both supported Trump and initially had doubts about the results of the 2020 election. But she told "PBS NewsHour" that her opinion of the former president had changed after the riot, calling him a "horrible person."
"I hold Donald Trump 100 percent responsible for what happened on Jan. 6 and all of the people that have enabled him, enabled him that day, and continue to enable him now," said Garza, who was with Sicknick for 11 years.
"Personally, for me, I think he needs to be in prison," she added. "That is what I think."
The House committee investigating the riot recently released evidence that Trump continued to watch the attack unfold on television even as various of his allies pleaded for him to intervene.
"He stood by for hours and watched what was going on at the Capitol during this insurrection, watching everything unfold like it was an action movie," Garza said in an interview with MSNBC, arguing that Trump "instigated this entire event."
Garza also discussed her late partner's support for Trump, telling CBS News that Sicknick even had a photo of Trump's personal plane as his background image on Twitter. She said she now believes his opinion would have changed had he survived, adding that Trump still has not contacted her about her partner's death nearly one year later.
"I think, sadly, Brian did not live long enough to see the evidence that has come forth to show what kind of man Donald Trump really is," she told PBS. "I think Brian would be horrified. I think he would have viewed Donald Trump in a very different light."
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