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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) condemned Friday violent protests around the country sparked by police killings of unarmed black citizens, including the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in McConnell's hometown of Louisville.

The big picture: McConnell said that he supports free speech and peaceful protests condemning the killings, which he said "have shaken our nation." But he said that he believes recent violent protests are not an exercise of free speech, but instead "violent crime that victimizes innocent people."

What he's saying:

"Generations of heroes have fought and died to protect Americans’ First Amendment rights to voice their anger and engage in peaceful protest. I have championed these liberties my entire career. Stealing, burning down buildings, attacking law enforcement officers, or laying siege to police precincts is not speech or protest. It is violent crime that victimizes innocent people.
"Kentuckians cannot and will not accept violence and chaos on our streets. Seven people were shot in Louisville last night, and according to Mayor Fischer, none of those shots were fired by law enforcement. This senseless behavior has to stop.
"Our city, our state, and our country have to pull together. Violence does not make our streets safer. Injustice does not promote justice. Destruction does not build a better society. We will only be able to chart the future we want if we do it together."

Go deeper

Over 190 law enforcement officials endorse Biden

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Over 190 law enforcement officials on Friday endorsed Joe Biden for president, per a campaign statement.

Why it matters: The endorsements rebut a theme of the Trump re-election campaign, which has falsely claimed that Biden wants to defund the police. Both candidates this week traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin to address the shooting of Jacob Blake. Biden called for officers involved to be charged while Trump cracked down on protests that had turned violent.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Kellyanne Conway's parting power pointers

Kellyanne Conway addresses the 2020 Republican National Convention. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Kellyanne Conway has seen power exercised as a pollster, campaign manager and senior counselor to President Trump. Now that his term in office has concluded, she shared her thoughts with Axios.

Why it matters: If there's a currency in this town, it's power, so we've asked several former Washington power brokers to share their best advice as a new administration and new Congress settle in.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP holdouts press on with plans to crush Cheney

Screenshot of emails to a member of Congress from individuals who signed an Americans for Limited Government petition against Rep. Liz Cheney. Photo obtained by Axios

Pro-Trump holdouts in the House are forging ahead with an uphill campaign to oust Rep. Liz Cheney as head of the chamber's Republican caucus even though Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told them to back down.

Why it matters: What happens next will be a test of McCarthy's party control and the sincerity of his opposition to the movement. Cheney (R-Wyo.) is seen as a potential leadership rival to the California Republican.