WASHINGTON – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday thanked police officers for “saving our country” on Jan. 6, 2021, by protecting Congress from mobs of supporters of then-President Donald Trump.
The Kentucky Republican applauded members of the U.S. Capitol Police and the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department during the presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal to forces that fought riots that stopped the confirmation of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
“Thanks to your courage and professionalism, Congress completed our work that night. Because you honored your oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, we were able to honor ours,” McConnell said in the Capitol Rotunda.
“That’s a fact that was obvious 23 months ago, but it’s true every day,” he added. “Thank you for supporting us. Thank you for saving our country. Thank you for being not only our friend, but our hero.”
McConnell broke with Trump, 76, after the turmoil, calling him “practically and morally responsible.” His wife, Elaine Chao, Trump’s transportation secretary, resigned on January 7, citing the “traumatic and completely preventable” violence.
McConnell remains one of the top Republicans trying to distance the party from the former commander-in-chief, who is seeking a second consecutive term in 2024.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) presided over Tuesday’s event and applauded the officers for fighting the “hilarious desecration” of the building and “the worst attack on democracy since the Civil War.”
“More than 140 members [the police forces were] left lasting scars and many more with permanent scars,” he said.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D-Calif.) also spoke and offered more broad praise for the police.
“The Capitol Police and the DC Police are valued members of this community. But they are also members of another community, the law enforcement community, the law enforcement fraternity,” McCarthy said.
“By awarding them the Congressional Gold Medal, we not only honor them online on January 6th for their defense of nation and community, but we also honor them for an important fraternity.”
The Gold Medal legislation for police officers originally passed the Senate on the day Trump was acquitted of rioting in February 2021 — with only seven Republicans voting to convict him, falling short of a two-thirds majority in the upper chamber. judgment.
A medal was presented to Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who led the initial wave of rioters through an open door to the Senate chamber to prevent potential violence during the initial Senate bill, specifically the evacuation of senators and Vice President Mike Pence. should have done. A reporter for The Post captured footage of Goodman single-handedly redirecting the riot. The raiders later burst into the Senate chamber – at least two of them carrying plastic handcuffs.
Congress passed at the end version No specific officer was awarded by Pelosi, and the police chiefs of the two departments accepted on behalf of the workforce.
President Biden signed the Gold Medal Act in August, calling a mob of Trump supporters “extremists and terrorists” and saying “we cannot allow history to be rewritten.”
Ashley Babbitt, a 36-year-old Trump supporter, was shot and killed by a police officer during the riots, and three other pro-Trump rioters died while receiving medical attention. US Congressional Police Officer Brian Siknik, 42, himself a Trump supporter, died of a stroke after fighting riots. Four policemen and at least three accused died as a result of the riots that later committed suicide.
In a display of political and emotional violence still raw from the upheaval, members of Siknik’s family, including his mother, Gladys Siknik, patted McConnell’s outstretched palm and refused to shake hands with Republican leaders.
Gladys Sicknick said CNN’s Daniella Diaz said McConnell and McCarthy are “just two-faced. I’m tired of them standing there and saying how great the Capitol Police are, and then they turn around and go down to Mar-a-Lago and kiss. [Trump’s] call … It just hurts.
McConnell has not spoken to Trump or visited the Mar-a-Lago resort since the turmoil, but McCarthy has tried to maintain a relationship with the former president and visited Trump in Palm Beach.
Trump said he told thousands of supporters near the White House to descend on the Capitol “peacefully and patriotically” on Jan. 6, and his defenders pointed out that many members of the Proud Boys did not attend Trump’s speech and had already clashed with them. officers before the end.
Trump’s detractors say the election was “stolen” and that he “must fight like hell” or “we’re not going to have another country.”