The supporters of US President Donald Trump gather in front of the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Probal Rashid | LightRocket | Getty Images
President Donald Trump and others provoked the swarms of his supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.
“The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people,” said Senate McConnell, who had been evacuated two weeks earlier after the riot crowd entered the building.
The remarks by McConnell, R-Ky., Came as he and Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., Senate minority chairman, worked to work out details of Trump’s impeachment trial. Trump was charged by 232-197 votes in the Democratic-run house last week, with 10 Republicans voting for impeachment.
Trump is the only president in US history to be charged twice.
The GOP leader made the direct link between the Republican president’s rhetoric and the January 6 uprising that killed five people the day before President-elect Joe Biden was due to be sworn in as the 46th president.
McConnell has denied pressure from the Democrats to hold this process before Trump leaves office, but he has told colleagues that he is unsure whether Trump should be sentenced in the Senate for incitement to riot.
McConnell’s remarks also suggested that other leaders were responsible for the attack. A growing chorus of critics has urged some lawmakers, notably GOP Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, to step down after objecting to major states’ election results.
McConnell had congratulated Biden on his victory in mid-December more than a month after the November 3rd election.
The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request to comment on McConnell’s recent remarks.
Trump, who at a White House rally admonished the crowd to “fight like hell” and go to the Capitol to overthrow the 2020 election, has insisted that his remarks were “perfectly appropriate” just before the uprising.
In that speech, Trump reiterated the brand new and false claim that he had been deprived of re-election by widespread electoral fraud. He vowed again that he would never give in to Biden, and urged his followers to go to the Capitol to “cheer” Republican lawmakers who vowed to object to the results.
“We will probably not cheer some of them as much because you will never retake our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong,” Trump also said.
Many of his supporters who attended the rally went straight to the Capitol via the National Mall, where a joint congressional session had been called to confirm Biden’s electoral college win. Rioters broke through police barricades and lines and entered the Capitol, forcing Congress to go into hiding. Among them was Vice President Mike Pence, who chaired the event.
Following McConnell’s remarks, Schumer said in the Senate that “Donald Trump should not run for office again.”
“Healing and unity will only come when there is truth and accountability,” said Schumer.
“There will be an impeachment trial in the United States Senate, there will be a vote to convict the president of high crimes and misdemeanors, and if the president is convicted there will be a vote preventing him from running again “said Schumer.
Trump, who has acknowledged the impending end of his term in office without Biden’s approval, has neither called his successor nor invited him to the White House prior to his inauguration.
Pence called Vice President-elect Kamala Harris last week to congratulate her and offer his help before she is sworn in.
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