Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said today that Trump and other leaders provoked the mob the attacked the US Capitol Building January 6 though he would not say if he will lead Senate Republicans in voting to convict Trump of impeachable offenses.
“The mob was fed lies,” Mr. McConnell said, referring to attempts by Mr. Trump to overturn the election based on bogus claims of voter fraud. “They were provoked by the president and other powerful people. And 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.”
A year ago, McConnell used his power as majority leader to prevent any witnesses in Trump’s first impeachment trial before the Senate.
Now he has clearly decided that Trump’s support is no longer useful to his own political position and is carefully calculating whether convicting Trump would be more helpful or not. McConnell, personally unpopular in his home state of Kentucky, needed Trump’s support to win re-election in 2020.
His most important calculation right now is how the other Senate Republicans will vote on impeachment. If he pushes too hard, 26 pro-Trump Republicans could replace him as their leader, a humiliating end to his leadership.
Being of an age where another term would be doubtful anyway, McConnell is also basing the impeachment decision on how much it would divide or turnoff Republican voters for future elections.
The reference to “other powerful people” suggests he is thinking other Republican leaders or elected officials might have to be let go if the evidence of collusion with the insurrectionists piles up.