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 helped provoke the swarms of his supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.
The Senate remarks came as the Kentucky Republican and Senate Minority Chairman Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., 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 have been charged twice.
“The mob was fed lies,” McConnell told the chamber, which had been evacuated two weeks earlier, when rioters broke into the building. “You were provoked by the president and other powerful people.”
The GOP leader made the direct link between the Republican president’s rhetoric and the January 6 uprising, which left five dead the day before President-elect Joe Biden, the 46th president, died the day before President-elect Joe Biden was sworn in.
McConnell has denied pressure from Democrats to hold impeachment proceedings before Trump leaves office, but has told colleagues he’s not sure 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. Critics have urged some lawmakers, notably GOP Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, to resign 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 elections, has insisted 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 again vowed 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’re probably not going to 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 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 barricades and law enforcement lines and entered the Capitol, forcing Congress to go into hiding. Among them was Vice President Mike Pence, who chaired the event.
After McConnell’s statements on Tuesday, Schumer said in the Senate: “Donald Trump should never be able to run for office again.”
“Healing and unity will only come when there is truth and accountability,” said Schumer.
“There will be an impeachment process 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, a vote will be taken to prevent him from running again,” said Schumer.
Trump, who has acknowledged the impending end of his term in office without a concession to Biden, has not called his successor and has not invited the Democratic president-elect to the White House before the inauguration.
Pence called Vice President-elect Kamala Harris last week to congratulate her and offer his help before she is sworn in.