Biden to mark anniversary of Jan 6 riots with awards to the day’s ‘heroes’

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden on Friday will mark the second anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Capitol with an award ceremony for “heroes” from law enforcement and politics for their contributions to democracy that day and beyond.

Biden, a Democrat, will award the “Presidential Citizens Medal” to 12 people and give remarks during a ceremony at the White House while Republicans, many of them loyal to former President Donald Trump, continue to struggle to elect a speaker of the House of Representatives.

“These 12 heroes demonstrated courage and selflessness during a moment of peril for our nation,” a White House official said.

Rioters who supported Trump broke through barricades and invaded the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, interrupting the certification of Biden’s 2020 election victory.

Trump, who has announced a re-election bid for 2024, continues to claim falsely that the 2020 election was marred by widespread fraud.

Biden has strongly condemned the acts of violence two years ago and repeatedly raised concerns about the threats to U.S. democracy by Trump and people inspired by him.

The White House event will provide him another opportunity to weigh in on the issue and provide a contrast with Republicans, whose inability so far this week to elect a House speaker has raised questions about their capacity to govern with a slim majority in the chamber of Congress they control.

Biden has called it embarrassing that it was taking so long for the House leader to be elected. Hardline Republicans rejected the party’s chosen leader, Kevin McCarthy, in his speakership bid for an 11th time on Thursday night.

Biden provided another contrast with warring House Republicans during a joint appearance with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday at a bridge in Kentucky in a display of bipartisanship. Democrats control the U.S. Senate.

The White House ceremony will take place at 2:00 p.m. ET (1900 GMT) on Friday.

Honorees include former Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who resisted pressure to overturn the 2020 election results in their states, Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman, who diverted rioters from the Senate floor while members were evacuating, and Georgia election worker Ruby Freeman, who has recently been targeted by Trump on social media.

Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who died in the days following the attack on the Capitol, will receive a posthumous medal. Washington’s chief medical examiner ruled that Sicknick died of natural causes following multiple strokes after the attack on the Capitol.

On the day of the attack, then-President Trump delivered a speech near the White House and urged his supporters to march to the Capitol.

Five people died and more than 140 police officers were injured in the attack. A bipartisan U.S. House panel investigating the attack said last month that Trump should face criminal charges for his role in sparking the riot.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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