Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) explicitly blamed President Trump for the attacks that occurred on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6th, saying the mob were “fed lied” that were “provoked by the president and other powerful people.”
In a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon, McConnell addressed the Capitol riot, noting it was the first time the Senate has convened following the breaching on complex in an attempt to disrupted the Electoral College certification process.
“The last time the Senate convened, we had just reclaimed the Capitol from violent criminals who tried to stop Congress from doing our duty. The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people,” McConnell said in his final floor addresses as majority leader.
McConnell went on to mention how the rioters who siege the Capitol were attempting “to use fear and violence” in order to “stop a specific proceeding” of the Joint Session of Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
“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,” McConnell said. “But we pressed on. We stood together and said an angry mob would not get veto power over the rule of law in our nation. Not even for one night.”
He promised that both Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would have a “safe and successful” inauguration ceremony at the Capitol on Wednesday.
“We certified the people’s clear choice for their 46th president. Tomorrow, President-elect Biden and Vice-President-elect Harris will be sworn in. We will have a safe and successful inauguration right here on the west front of the Capitol — the space that President Bush 41 called ‘democracy’s front porch,'” he added.
McConnell’s comments came just a week after the House voted to impeach Trump for a second time for “incitement of insurrection.” A handful of Republicans have also echoed McConnell’s sentiment, turning on Trump while using the president’s remark he made during a “Save America” rally on the morning of Jan. 6 led to the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol. Republicans who have staunchly supported Trump but opposed the Democrats’ impeachment efforts have issued strong rebukes towards the president.
Following the Electoral College vote in December, McConnell officially acknowledged Joe Biden as the president-elect for the first time in congratulatory remarks on the Senate floor. The GOP leader sought to distance himself from Trump, warning his caucus not to join the President’s effort in disputing the Electoral College tally when Congress convenes in a joint session.
McConnell made his most definitive break from Trump last week after the New York Times reported that the GOP Leader told allies that he’s done defending Trump and “pleased” that House Democrats have introduced an article of impeachment. The source added that McConnell thinks that if Trump is impeached and then potentially convicted, it would not only prohibit him from running for president again but “make it easier to purge him from the Republican party.”
Privately, the GOP leader told close confidence that he believes Trump committed impeachable offenses but has left colleagues guessing on how he might vote on the article of impeachment.
However, in public, following the NY Times reporting, McConnell said that he would listen to the arguments presented during the Senate impeachment trial before deciding how to vote on the impeachment charge.
“While the press has been full of speculation, I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” McConnell wrote in a note to colleagues last week.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the Senate will have three priorities once Biden is inaugurated — Trump’s second impeachment trial, confirming Biden’s cabinet nominees, and passing the incoming president’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.
Schumer focused his floor remarks making the case for Trump’s conviction, saying Senate needs to set a precedent that the “severest offense ever committed by a president would be met by the severest remedy provided by the Constitution — impeachment,” and disbarment from future office.
“President Trump is a threat to our constitutional order, whether he is in or out of office,” Schumer said. “Even now he has not accepted responsibility for what he has done and still falsely maintains that the election was stolen.”
Despite the fact that Trump is departing the White House on Wednesday prior to Biden’s swear-in ceremony, Democrats are pushing forward in hopes to convict the president on the second impeachment to strip Trump of his presidential clearance and bar him from running again in 2024.
Sixty-seven votes are needed in the Senate to convict Trump on the charges of “incitement of insurrection,” meaning that 17 Republicans would need to join their 50 Democratic Senators in voting for it to succeed. It is unknown at this time how many Republicans are in favor of voting to convict Trump, will the majority overwhelmingly oppose and calling on Biden to cease the second impeachment, saying the trial will “will only lead to more hate and a deeply fractured nation.”
However, the House has yet transmitted the article of impeachment that was passed last Wednesday to the Senate, a necessary step to trigger an automatic trial despite the lack of Democrats holding any hearings, collecting evidences nor have called on witnesses for both sides to examine during the impending trial.
Both Schumer and McConnell are set to meet following the conclusion of the Senate Pro-forma session to discuss the power-sharing agreement as well as the planning of the daunting upcoming Senate schedule.