President Biden was briefly upstaged Thursday by the 7-year-old daughter of a US Capitol Police officer who died in April after he was struck by a car at a barricade.
Shortly before Biden signed a bill awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to all law enforcement officers who responded to the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol, he pointed to Abigail Evans and beckoned her to join him at the desk in the White House Rose Garden.
After Abigail scampered up to the president, followed by brother Logan, Biden pulled her in for a one-armed embrace. As the girl greeted Vice President Kamala Harris, Biden began signing the legislation with a series of ceremonial pens.
“This is a silly way to do this,” the president told Abigail. “Mommy will explain it to you later.”
After signing the bill into law, Biden handed three of the pens to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Roy Blunt (D-Mo.). That done, he gathered up the remainder and told Abigail: “Now, you’ve gotta help me out.”
“Would you give a pen to each of the people back there?” he asked, indicating law enforcement officers who participated in the signing ceremony. “And then I’ll get pens for you, OK?” Abigail duly collected the pens and handed them out.
Abigail’s father, US Capitol Police Officer Billy Evans, helped defend the building from pro-Trump rioters hoping to disrupt the congressional certification of the 2020 election results. Evans died April 2 after he was struck by a car driven by 25-year-old Noah Green, a self-described follower of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan who was shot and killed by police.
On Thursday, Biden said Evans and fellow Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died the day after the riot, “gave the full measure of their devotion to the country at the United States Capitol.”
“It’s nice to be honored and have those who you lost remembered, but it’s tough to be here because it brings back everything like it happened 10 minutes ago,” the president told the Evans and Sicknick families. “So, I offer you not only our condolences, but recognize your courage, the courage of your children. And you have our most profound gratitude.”
Biden and Abigail previously crossed paths at a ceremony where Officer Billy Evans’ body lay in honor in the Capitol Rotunda. The president, who was seated next to Evans’ family, appeared to pick up a toy Abigail dropped on his way to deliver remarks, and handed Logan what looked like a presidential coin on his way back.
“I have some idea of what you’re feeling like. I buried two of my children,” Biden said that day in remarks addressed to Evans’ widow, Shannon. “And people have come up to you and are going to come up to you for some time and say, ‘I know how you feel.’ … They’re going to say that to the kids. They’re going to say that to his former wife. And after a while — you know everybody means well — you feel like saying, ‘You have no idea.’”