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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday said the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters were “provoked” by President Trump “and other powerful people” to try to stop certification of his election defeat.
In a Senate floor speech, McConnell (R-Ky.) said, “The last time the Senate convened, we had just reclaimed the Capitol from violent criminals … the mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people. And they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding … but we pressed on.”
McConnell’s wife, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, was the first member of Trump’s cabinet to resign over the riot, which followed a speech by Trump near the White House in which he urged thousands of supporters to “fight like hell” to persuade lawmakers to overturn Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.
McConnell, who will be the most powerful Republican in Washington when Trump departs office Wednesday at noon, has said he’s undecided on whether to convict Trump in a looming impeachment trial over the riot.
McConnell will relinquish his majority leader position to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Wednesday, but will retain the power to block legislation and impede Biden’s nominees due to Senate rules.
Trump was impeached by the House last week for allegedly inciting an insurrection. If he’s convicted in the Senate, he could be banned from holding federal office again. At least 17 Republican votes are needed to convict — a steep climb. In the House, 10 Republicans broke ranks and voted to impeach Trump.
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