President Donald Trump helped provoke the angry horde of his supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.
The damning remarks on the Senate floor came as the Kentucky Republican and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., worked to hash out details on Trump’s impending impeachment trial.
“The mob was fed lies,” McConnell told the chamber. “They were provoked by the president and other powerful people.”
The GOP leader directly linked Trump’s dangerous rhetoric to the Jan. 6 riot, which left five dead, the day before President-elect Joe Biden was to be sworn in as the 46th president.
Trump was impeached in the Democrat-led House last week in a 232-197 vote, with 10 Republicans voting in favor of impeachment. Trump is the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice.
Trump, who urged the crowd at a rally outside the White House to “fight like hell” and head to the Capitol to overturn the 2020 election, has insisted that his remarks just before the riot were “totally appropriate.”
In that speech, Trump repeated the incendiary and false claim that he had been robbed of reelection by widespread electoral fraud. He once again vowed that he would never concede to Biden, and he urged his supporters to go to the Capitol to “cheer on” Republican lawmakers who had vowed to object to the results.
“We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong,” Trump said.
In his remarks Tuesday, McConnell said that “the last time the Senate convened, we had just reclaimed the Capitol from violent criminals who tried to stop Congress from doing our duty.”
“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 will not get veto power over the rule of law in our nation, not even for one night. We certified the people’s choice for their 46th president.”
McConnell also promised that Biden’s inauguration will be “safe and successful.” The inauguration will be significantly pared down compared with past ceremonies due to the coronavirus pandemic and the threat of violence.