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Politics & Policy

McConnell on Trump’s ‘Disgraceful Dereliction of Duty’

After voting that Trump was “not guilty” on the purported grounds that the Senate lacks constitutional authority to convict a former president, Mitch McConnell delivered a scathing 20-minute speech on the Senate floor laying blame for the January 6 attack on Congress squarely on Trump:

January 6 was a disgrace. American citizens attacked their own government. They used terrorism to try to stop a specific piece of domestic business they did not like. Fellow Americans beat and bloodied our own police.

They stormed the Senate floor. They tried to hunt down the speaker of the House. They built a gallows and chanted about murdering the vice president.

They did this because they’d been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on earth because he was angry he lost an election. 

Former president Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty. 

You can watch the full speech here:

More from McConnell’s remarks:

The issue is not only the president’s intemperate language on January 6. It is not just his endorsement of remarks in which an associate urged “trial by combat.” It was also the entire manufactured atmosphere of looming catastrophe—the increasingly wild myths, myths about a reverse landslide election that was somehow being stolen by some secret coup. […]

The leader of the free world cannot spend weeks thundering that shadowy forces are stealing our country and then feign surprise when people believe him and do reckless things. Now sadly many politicians sometimes make overheated comments or use metaphors—we saw that—that unhinged listeners might take literally. But that was different. That’s different from what we saw. 

This was an intensifying crescendo of conspiracy theories orchestrated by an outgoing president who seemed determined to either overturn the voters’ decision or else torch our institutions on the way out.

The unconscionable behavior did not end when the violence actually began. Whatever our ex-president claims he thought might happen that day—whatever right reaction he says he meant to produce—by that afternoon we know he was watching the same live television as the rest of us.

A mob was assaulting the Capitol in his name. These criminals were carrying his banners, hanging his flags, and screaming their loyalty to him. 

It was obvious that only President Trump could end this. He was the only one who could. Former aides publicly begged him to do so. Loyal allies frantically called the administration. The president did not act swiftly. He did not do his job. He didn’t take steps so federal law could be faithfully executed and order restored. No, instead, according to public reports, he watched television happily—happily as the chaos unfolded.

He kept pressing his scheme to overturn the election. Now even after it was clear to any reasonable observer that Vice President Pence was in serious danger, even as the mob carrying Trump banners was beating cops and breaching perimeters, the president sent a further tweet attacking his own vice president. Now predictably and foreseeably under the circumstances, members of the mob seem to interpret this as a further inspiration to lawlessness and violence. […]

In recent weeks, our ex-president’s associates have tried to use the 74 million Americans who voted to re-elect him as a kind of human shield against criticism. Anyone who decries his awful behavior is accused of insulting millions of voters. That is an absurd deflection. 74 million Americans did not invade the Capitol. Several hundred rioters did.

And 74 million Americans did not engineer the campaign of disinformation and rage that provoked it.

One person did.


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