In the latest sign of Republicans distancing themselves from Donald Trump, one of the president's most prominent allies in the Senate blamed him, in part, for inciting the deadly U.S. Capitol riot.
"The mob was fed lies," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, during remarks on the Senate floor on Tuesday. "They were provoked by the president and other powerful people."
McConnell, 78, has long been a powerful political ally for Trump, 74, during his time in office. However, in Trump's final days, he's secluded himself in the White House while support from once-loyal GOP lawmakers has dwindled. McConnell included.
"Enough is enough," Sen. Lindsey Graham, another of Trump's most loyal allies in the Senate, claimed hours after the Jan. 6 attack.
Ten Republican representatives voted to impeach Trump last week for his role in conjuring up the riot. It was the largest number of impeachment votes a president has ever received from their own political party and underscored the seriousness behind some Republicans' recent decision to break with Trump and join their colleagues from the Democratic Party in criticizing the soon-to-be ex-president.
Last Wednesday's unprecedented Republican rebuke came as Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives on one charge of "incitement of insurrection," making him the first president to ever be impeached twice.
McConnell helped guide the Senate's GOP majority towards acquitting Trump in early 2020, after he was impeached in December 2019 on two charges connected to his role in the Ukraine scandal.
Trump is currently awaiting his second impeachment trial in the Senate, which is expected to unfold after the president's first term ends on Wednesday.
McConnell hasn't said with certainty yet whether he'll vote to impeach Trump this time around. Instead, the Senate majority leader has left it as an open question while recently voicing frustration with the outgoing president and his supporters.
Late on Jan. 6, hours after reconvening the joint session that was interrupted by the pro-Trump mob, McConnell referred to the riot as a "failed" insurrection attempt on the U.S. Capitol, which "tried to disrupt our democracy."
Since then, McConnell has joined other Republicans in more clearly recognizing President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the 2020 election winners.
On Tuesday, the Kentucky Republican addressed the security concerns surrounding Biden and Harris' swearing-in this week. "We'll have a safe and successful inaugural right here on the very front of the Capitol" on Wednesday, McConnell vowed.
"Our marching orders from the American people are clear," McConnell added. "We're to have a robust discussion and seek common ground. We are to pursue bipartisan agreement everywhere we can, and check and balance one another, respectfully, where we must."
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