Bobby Rankin said he refused to shake Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) hand while serving as a pallbearer at Rep. Elijah Cumming’s funeral because he blamed McConnell for denying veterans’ benefits to his brother before he died last October from cancer after being exposed to contaminated water while serving in the Marines.
“When I saw Mitch McConnell, all I saw was my brother’s face,” Rankin told The Washington Post.
In a now-viral 16-second clip, Rankin is seen shaking the hand of Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) then skipping over Sen. McConnell who was standing next to Schumer, and then shaking Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) hand.
Rankin told the Post that he hadn’t seen the video until a reporter from the newspaper contacted him.
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He also told the Post that Cummings reached out to McConnell to help get Rankin’s brother his military benefits.
“I could not put my hands in the man’s hand who refused to help somebody who served his country,” Rankin told the Post, later adding, “I couldn’t do it, because I was thinking about my brother.”
The Hill adds:
He said his brother was already on his mind when he spotted McConnell, as it was near the anniversary of his brother’s death. He told the paper he wasn’t clear about why his brother didn’t receive his benefits or McConnell’s precise role in the battle to get them after the cancer returned.
Rankin met Cummings at a gas station in Baltimore more than two decades ago and stayed close as Cummings continued his political career, according to the Post.
“When I carry him to his grave, if I could say something to him, I would say something I said to him many, many times before,” Rankin told the Post. “What a mighty, mighty man he is.”
Cummings as House Oversight and Reform Committee chairman was among the House Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.