Mitch McConnell 1 year after Jan. 6 Capitol attack: Democrats are trying to 'exploit this anniversary'

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., spoke at the groundbreaking for the new VA Medical Center on Brownsboro Road in Louisville. Nov. 11, 2021
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One-year after a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol led by supporters of former President Donald Trump, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell accused his colleagues across the aisle for trying to "exploit this anniversary."

McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said in a statement released Thursday morning that Jan. 6, 2021, was "a dark day for Congress and our country" and thanked the U.S. Capitol Police "who served our institution bravely that day and every day since."

But he did not spare the barbs against Senate Democrats, whom he accused of using the insurrection anniversary to push filibuster reform.

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"It has been stunning to see some Democrats try to exploit this anniversary to advance partisan policy goals that long predated this event," McConnell said.

He added: "It is especially jaw-dropping to hear some Senate Democrats invoke the mob’s attempt to disrupt our country’s norms, rules and institutions as a justification to discard our norms, rules and institutions themselves."

The mob attempted to stop the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021, by violently overwhelming police, breaking into the Capitol and ransacking offices and occupying legislative chambers. Rioters chanted "hang Mike Pence," and looked for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as they raided the Capitol.

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More than 140 police officers were injured during the attack and four people died, including rioter Ashli Babbitt, who was shot by a police officer while trying to climb through a window into the House chamber. A police officer died of a stroke the next day after he was attacked in the riot though a medical examiner attributed the death to natural causes. Four police officers died by suicide in the weeks that followed.

So far, 17 Kentucky residents have been charged with participating in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Of them, three have received sentences that ranged from probation to short jail stints, with federal judges also ordering community service and fines.

Kentucky ranks No. 6 among states with the most residents charged in the riot.

Meanwhile, in the nation's Capitol, Senate Democrats have been trying to pass voting rights legislation. To do so, they would need to change the Senate’s legislative filibuster, a 60-vote threshold required for most legislation to pass the upper chamber. Democrats currently hold 50 seats in the U.S. Senate.

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McConnell finished his statement by commending the Senate for standing together during the insurrection and by criticizing Senate Democrats one more time.

"A year ago today, the Senate did not bend or break," he said. "We stuck together, stood strong, gaveled back in, and did our job.

"Senators should not be trying to exploit this anniversary to damage the Senate in a different way from within."

Contact Ben Tobin at bjtobin@gannett.com or follow on Twitter @Ben__Tobin.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Mitch McConnell: Democrats trying to 'exploit' Jan. 6 Capitol attack

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