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On Jan. 6, McConnell sides with Capitol Police chief over Carlson

Republicans are effectively being asked to choose between siding with the Capitol Police and siding with Fox News. Mitch McConnell prefers the former.

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U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger saw Fox News’ Tucker Carlson use exclusive access to Jan. 6 footage and twist it into a distorted picture. As NBC News reported, Manger was not impressed.

U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger on Tuesday ripped Fox News host Tucker Carlson for spreading “offensive and misleading conclusions” about the Jan. 6 insurrection, including a “disturbing accusation” that Officer Brian Sicknick’s death had nothing to do with the riot. In a letter to the Capitol Police force that was obtained by NBC News, Manger conveyed his outrage over the way Carlson portrayed footage aired on his prime-time program on Monday night. The security video was exclusively provided to Carlson by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

“The program conveniently cherry-picked from the calmer moments of our 41,000 hours of video,” Manger wrote in the letter. “The commentary fails to provide context about the chaos and violence that happened before or during these less tense moments.”

The chief went on to note that the controversial television personality and his team “never reached out to the Department to provide accurate context,” adding that some of the host’s assertions were “outrageous and false.”

At face value, this was a significant development, in part because it puts Republicans in a position in which they’ll have to choose between siding with law enforcement and siding with an allied cable network that partners with the party.

But it became even more notable this afternoon when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell picked a side.

Asked if it was a mistake for McCarthy to provide Carlson with special access, McConnell told reporters, “My concern is how [the footage] was depicted. Clearly the chief of the Capitol police, in my view, correctly describes what most of us witnessed firsthand on Jan. 6. It was a mistake, in my view, for Fox News to depict this in a way that’s completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official here at the Capitol thinks.”

The Kentucky Republican, well aware of the placement of nearby cameras, held up a copy of Manger’s letter as he spoke to reporters. The GOP leader added that he wanted to “associate myself entirely with the opinion of the chief of the Capitol police about what happened on Jan. 6.”

McConnell was given a variety of opportunities to criticize McCarthy, but he very carefully declined. That said, the Senate Republican leader didn’t offer any words of support for his House colleague, either.

On more than a few occasions in recent months, the top two GOP leaders have not been on the same page. It appears we have yet another example to add to the growing list.