By Steven Nelson
WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was snubbed Tuesday by the parents of late Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick at an event honoring cops who battled the Jan. 6 mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters.
Sicknick’s parents, Charles and Gladys Sicknick of South River, NJ, walked past the Kentucky Republican’s outreached palm in the Capitol Rotunda as members of the congressional and DC police forces received Congressional Gold Medals.
McConnell is one of the most powerful GOPers to break with Trump in response to last year’s violence, and the two men have not spoken since the riot. McConnell stood next to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who did not extend his hand. McCarthy publicly rebuked Trump after the mayhem but then rekindled his relationship with the 76-year-old former president, who is vying to return to the White House in 2024.
Sicknick, 42, himself a Trump supporter, died of a stroke Jan. 7. His death initially was misreported to be the result of bludgeoning, but the DC Medical Examiner said in April that he died of “natural causes,” not homicide. The possible link between the riot and his death remains debated.
Gladys Sicknick told CNN that she snubbed McConnell because he and McCarthy “are just two-faced.
“I’m just tired of them standing there and saying how wonderful the Capitol Police is, and then they turn around and… go down to Mar-a-Lago and kiss [Trump’s] ring,” Gladys Sicknick said. “It just hurts.”
McConnell has not visited Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, but McCarthy has made the trip to see Trump in Palm Beach.
Charles Sicknick told the Huffington Post, “When I grew up, there was a second World War going on.
“And Adolf Hitler had these guys, they called them brownshirts. That’s very similar. If you didn’t agree with them, they came in and beat you up,” the father said of the rioters.
Although Trump and McConnell worked together on issues such as tax cuts and judicial confirmations during Trump’s four years in office, they clashed on foreign policy and have strongly criticized each other since the riot.
McConnell called Trump “practically and morally responsible” for the storming of the Capitol by rioters who disrupted certification of President Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. Still, he voted to acquit Trump in the ex-president’s February 2021 impeachment trial for allegedly inciting the clashes.
McConnell’s wife, Trump’s transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, resigned from his Cabinet, citing the “traumatic and entirely avoidable” violence.
Trump has attacked McConnell personally, calling him a “Broken Old Crow” in a possible insult aimed at his difficulty walking due to childhood polio. Trump has nicknamed Chao “Coco Chow” in an apparent jab at her Asian heritage.
McConnell, speaking at the event after the Sicknicks’ snub, thanked police officers for “saving our country” by defending the Capitol.
“Because of your bravery and professionalism, Congress finished our job that very night. Because you honor your oath to support and defend the Constitution, we were able to honor ours,” McConnell said.
“That is a reality that was made especially clear 23 months ago, but it is true every single day,” he added. “Thank you for having our backs. Thank you for saving our country. Thank you for being not just our friends but our heroes.”
Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) presided over the medal event Tuesday and hailed officers for beating back the “gleeful desecration” of the building and the “most staggering assault on democracy since the Civil War.”
Video of Capitol breakin. Trump protesters are demanding to see senators pic.twitter.com/w7jTNYAedd
— Steven Nelson (@stevennelson10) January 6, 2021
Pelosi referred to Sicknick and three police officers who subsequently died by suicide as “martyrs for democracy.
“More than 140 members of [the police forces were] left with lasting scars and many more suffering from indelible trauma,” she said.
McCarthy, who is best positioned to be House speaker next year, more broadly praised police in his remarks.
The Capitol Police and DC police are valued members of this community. But they’re also members of another community, the community of law enforcement, the brotherhood of law enforcement,” McCarthy said.
“By awarding them the Congressional Gold Medal, we’re not online honoring them for protecting the nation and community on Jan. 6, but we’re honoring them for the essential brotherhood as well.”
The so-called Gold Medal legislation to honor the police officers initially passed the Senate on the same day that Trump was acquitted of inciting the riot. Just seven Republicans voted to find him guilty, meaning the upper chamber failed to reach the two-thirds threshold for conviction.
The initial Senate bill would have given a medal specifically to Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who led the initial wave of rioters away from an open door to the Senate chamber, averting potential violence against evacuating senators and Vice President Mike Pence. A reporter for The Post recorded footage of Goodman leading rioters in a different direction. The intruders later broke into the Senate chamber — at least two of them carrying plastic handcuffs.
Congress ultimately passed a version pushed by Pelosi that did not give the award to any specific officer, and the chiefs of police from the two departments accepted on behalf of the work forces.
Biden signed the Gold Medal legislation in August, calling the mob “extremists and terrorists” and saying that “we cannot allow history to be rewritten.”
Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt, 36, was fatally shot by a police officer during the riot, and three other pro-Trump rioters died of medical emergencies. At least three accused rioters later died by suicide.
Trump has insisted that he told thousands of supporters near the White House to “peacefully and patriotically” descend on the Capitol on Jan. 6, and his defenders note that many members of the Proud Boys group didn’t attend Trump’s speech and were already scuffling with officers before it ended.
Trump’s detractors note that he revved up the crowd by claiming the election was being “stolen” and saying they had to “fight like hell” or they were “not going to have a country anymore.”