House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) told reporters on Thursday that he did not believe that former President Trump “provoked” the riots on Capitol Hill on January 6.
McCarthy appeared to backtrack from comments he made on January 13, when he said that Trump “bears responsibility for [the] attack on Congress by mob rioters.” Trump gave a speech to thousands of supporters on January 6 in which he claimed that the results of the elections were fraudulent, and urged his supporters to amass at the Capitol while Congress certified the results.
The former president did not attempt to call off the riots for hours after his supporters breached the Capitol and forced lawmakers to evacuate or shelter in place.
“I don’t believe he provoked it if you listen to what he said at the rally,” McCarthy said on Thursday. When asked whether Trump would continue to exert influence over the Republican Party, McCarthy responded that “Every former president still has a role within their party.”
“This president brought a lot of great success,” McCarthy added. “He brought people to the party who hadn’t been involved before and he should continue to engage in that way.”
Dozens of House Republicans supported efforts to overturn Electoral College results in several states, and all but ten opposed Democrats’ efforts to impeach Trump for “incitement to insurrection.” However, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) is reportedly in favor of impeaching Trump, which would allow the Senate to bar the former president from running for office again.
“The last time the Senate convened, we had just reclaimed the Capitol from violent criminals, who tried to stop Congress from doing our duty,” McConnell said in a floor speech on Tuesday. “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 of the first branch of the federal government that they did not like.”