Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a figure as complicit as any in President Donald Trump’s rise and rule, sharply rebuked the president on Tuesday, saying he provoked the insurrectionist mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol.
“The mob was fed lies,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “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 other powerful people McConnell ostensibly referred to include Republican colleagues in the Senate who, on the day of the violent Jan. 6 insurrection, objected to certifying the election as a victory for President-elect Joe Biden. Among them are Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who was presiding over the Senate during McConnell’s remarks Tuesday, and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who was the first senator to say he would act to throw out the election results.
McConnell, who will become the minority leader when two new Democrats are sworn in as senators from Georgia on Wednesday, reportedly told his colleagues last week that he supported House Democrats’ efforts to impeach Trump. But was ultimately unwilling to reconvene the Senate for an emergency session to consider removing Trump from office.
The GOP leader’s remarks come a day before Biden is scheduled to be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. McConnell was among the Republicans who backed Trump in the days following the Nov. 3 election, when the president began his crusade of baselessly claiming the election was rigged in Biden’s favor.
McConnell dodged questions about Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud at the time, instead saying that Trump was “100% within his rights” to look into allegations of “irregularities” and pursue legal challenges and recounts. He also refused to acknowledge Biden as the winner of the election until the Electoral College confirmed the outcome on Dec. 14, despite every reputable media outlet having called the contest for the Democrat just days after Nov. 3.