Mitch McConnell Blames Trump For Provoking A Deadly Mob — After Years Of Enabling Him
McConnell will become minority leader when three new Democrats will reportedly be sworn in on the same day as Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the outgoing majority leader who has been one of President Donald Trump’s most powerful Republican allies, laid blame Tuesday on the president for inciting a violent mob to attack the U.S. Capitol, which left five people, including a police officer, dead.
McConnell made the comments as the Senate begins confirmation hearings for five of President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet nominees on the eve of his inauguration. The statements also came as President Trump faces a post-term Senate trial after the House voted across party lines last week to impeach him for “incitement of insurrection.” Trump has been impeached two times in his single term — and his presidency now makes up half of all impeachments in U.S. history.
"The mob was fed lies,” McConnell said Tuesday. “They were provoked by the president and other powerful people. And they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government, which they did not like."
The Senate Republican has been characteristically cagey about whether he supports impeachment, but Tuesday’s remarks have renewed calls for McConnell to vote to convict the president. If all members are present during the Senate trial, it would require 17 Republicans siding with all 50 Democrats and independents to convict Trump. If the president is convicted, he could potentially be barred from ever holding federal office again.
McConnell’s reference to “powerful people” who incited the mob could ostensibly also be about his colleagues, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO), who voted to oppose the election results even after the deadly siege on January 6. Those Republicans have lost significant amounts of funding and faced calls for expulsion.
McConnell will become minority leader when three new Democrats — Georgia’s Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock and California’s Alex Padilla — are sworn in, which multiple reports have said will likely happen on Wednesday.
During remarks Tuesday, incoming Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that the Senate will have three top agenda items “over the next several weeks”: a second impeachment trial for President Donald Trump, confirming Biden’s administration nominees, and passing a new round of COVID-19 relief. Biden laid out his proposed $1.9 trillion economic stimulus plan last week.
In December, McConnell finally publicly acknowledged that Biden won the 2020 election — 42 days after voting concluded and 38 days after major news outlets declared Biden the victor.
Allan Piper contributed to this report.