During an awards ceremony, police officers and members of their families declined to shake hands with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The policemen received Congressional Gold Medals on Tuesday in recognition of their defense of the U.S. Capitol during the uprising on January 6; nevertheless, a video of the ceremony showed them shunning Republican officials in the receiving line.
“Exactly 23 months ago, our nation suffered the most staggering assault on democracy since the Civil War,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the ceremony. “Jan. 6 was a day of horror and heartbreak. It is also a moment of extraordinary heroism. Staring down deadly violence and despicable bigotry, our law enforcement officers bravely stood in the breach, ensuring that democracy survived on that dark day.”
In the days that followed, McConnell and McCarthy each publicly denounced the riot and Donald Trump, but neither lawmaker voted to convict the former president during his impeachment trial, and they both tried to obstruct a legislative inquiry into the uprising.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer extended his hand to shake with the police and their family members, but McConnell grinned and clutched onto a box containing a ceremonial medal with both hands as McCarthy held onto the box.
The family of Brian Sicknick, a U.S. Capitol Police officer who passed away in the days after the attack and ultimately lay in honor in the Capitol, was one of those who passed the congressional leaders.
Following the snub, McConnell and McCarthy both recognized the police for their bravery on that particular day in their ceremonial statements.
“To all the law enforcement officers who keep this country safe: thank you,” McCarthy said. “Too many people take that for granted, but days like today force us to realize how much we owe the thin blue line.”
Police officers, including former D.C. officer Michael Fanone, who suffered a heart attack and severe brain damage in the riot and covertly taped a meeting with the House Republican leader, have attacked McCarthy’s handling of the incident. The severity of the incident has been reduced by some House Republicans, and McCarthy has personally discounted former President Donald Trump’s contribution to inciting the mob.
Although McConnell joined McCarthy and other Republicans in voting against the creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the riot, he has referred to the attack on January 6 as a “violent uprising.” The Republican Senate leader also abstained from voting in Trump’s second impeachment trial on Jan. 6 due to the previous president’s involvement.