Washington, Jan 19 (efe-epa).- The outgoing Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, on Tuesday accused President Donald Trump of provoking the violent assault on the Capitol by his followers almost two weeks ago, an attack that resulted in five deaths.
“The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people,” McConnell said on the Senate floor during the first session of the upper house since the violent incident on Jan. 6.
The House of Representatives voted to proceed with impeaching Trump, whom the Democrat-controlled lower house accused of “incitement of insurrection” for egging his followers on at a huge rally in front of the White House before the angry and fired-up crowd moved en masse to the Capitol and invaded it.
When the single article of impeachment is passed to the Senate, it will be up to that body to put Trump on trial, although he will be out of office by the time that occurs.
“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,” McConnell said in his remarks.
“But we pressed on. We stood together and said an angry mob would not get veto power over the rule of law in our nation, not even for one night. We certified the people’s choice for their 46th president,” he added, referring to Democrat Joe Biden, who defeated Trump in the Nov. 3 presidential election.
So far, McConnell has not said how he will vote in Trump’s prospective Senate impeachment trial, but he is thought to be leaning toward voting against the president, an apparent stance that clears the way for other Republicans to vote in like manner without fear of reprisal from the GOP leader in the upper house.
At the same Senate hearing, Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer- who will soon become the majority leader now that the Democrats have acquired a razor-thin majority in the Senate including soon-to-be-Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote as Senate president – said that “After what he has done, the consequences of which we were all witness to, Donald Trump should not be eligible to run for office ever again.”
“All of us want to put this awful chapter in our nation’s history behind us,” he continued. “But healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability, not sweeping such a severe charge, such awful actions under the rug.”
“So let me be clear, there will be an impeachment trial in the United States Senate. There will be a vote on convicting the president for high crimes and misdemeanors. And if the president is convicted, there will be a vote on barring him from running again,” he added.
Biden will take the oath of office as president on Wednesday in a ceremony that Trump has said he will not attend, leaving power without acknowledging his defeat in the Nov. 3 election, which have been declared clean and fair by election authorities nationwide.
McConnell, however, acknowledged Biden’s victory and congratulated the president-elect in mid-December even as Trump was continuing to loudly insist that massive election fraud had denied him reelection, although he never provided a shred of proof for his increasingly outlandish claims, which he has never retracted.
Just minutes before the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, Trump had declared to his thousands of followers gathered to hear his remarks in front of the White House that election fraud had been perpetrated, urged them to march on Congress and told them to “fight like the devil” and show their strength to lawmakers who, even then, were voting to certify Biden’s victory, something that Trump evidently wanted to disrupt.
Later, Trump called the impeachment proceedings a “witch hunt” and said that his remarks to his supporters before they stormed the Capitol were “totally appropriate.”
Trump’s supporters entered the Capitol by force, breaking through police lines, breaking windows and forcing open doors, actions that forced lawmakers to interrupt their election certification proceedings and take cover within the building.
Five people died in the violence, chaos and mayhem, including a Capitol police officer who was beaten to death with a fire extinguisher and died a few days later, a female demonstrator shot dead by police and three Trump supporters who died of health complications during the riot.