US President Donald Trump’s supporters gather outside the Capitol building, January 6, 2021.
Probal Rashid | LightRocket | Getty Images
President Donald Trump and others provoked the swarms of his supporters that 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,” McConnell said on the Senate floor, which two weeks earlier had been evacuated after the crowd of rioters invaded the building.
The remarks from McConnell, R-Ky., came as he and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., worked to hash out details on Trump’s impending impeachment trial.
The GOP leader made the direct link between the Republican president’s rhetoric and the Jan. 6 riot, which left five dead, the day before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in as president.
McConnell has rebuffed pressure from Democrats to hold that trial before Trump leaves office, but he has told colleagues that he is undecided on whether Trump should be convicted in the Senate for inciting the riot.
McConnell’s remarks also suggested that other leaders bore responsibility for the attack. A growing chorus of critics have called on some lawmakers, especially Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, to resign after they objected to key states’ electoral results.
The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on McConnell’s remarks.
Trump has denied responsibility for the break-in at the Capitol, insisting that his remarks at a rally outside the White House just prior to the attack 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 also said.
Many of his supporters attending that rally walked directly across the National Mall to the Capitol, where a joint session of Congress was convened to confirm Biden’s Electoral College victory. Rioters broke through barricades and lines of law enforcement officers and entered the Capitol, forcing Congress into hiding. Among them was Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over the event.
After McConnell’s remarks, Schumer said on the Senate floor that “Donald Trump should not be eligible to run for office ever again.”
“Healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability,” Schumer said.
“There will be an impeachment trial in the United States Senate, there will be a vote on convicting the president for high crimes and misdemeanors, and if the president is convicted, there will be a vote on barring him from running again,” Schumer said.
This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.