Though you’ll never go broke betting on Mitch McConnell to do the wrong thing, it’s harder to pin him down on Jan. 6. The longtime GOP big wig was quick to condemn the attack on the Capitol building, but when he had the chance to ensure Donald Trump, its alleged instigator, from ever being president again, he didn’t take it. Instead he instructed his party to vote for acquittal after the former president’s second impeachment — only to then deliver a fiery speech blaming him for the attacks for which he’d just been cleared. Then, not two weeks later, he announced he’d support him if he ran again.
Jump about a year and he’s taken another unpredictable stance. Last week, the Republican National Committee voted to censure the two lone members of its party working with the House Select committee investigating Jan. 6. In a statement, they went so far as to deem the attacks “legitimate political discourse.” That inspired McConnell, still one of the party’s top dogs despite his demotion to Senate minority leader, to break rank.
McConnell calls Jan. 6 a "violent insurrection" and says the RNC shouldn't have censured Cheney and Kinzinger pic.twitter.com/wcE1EQRH9y
— Jan Wolfe (@JanNWolfe) February 8, 2022
While speaking to reporters outside the Senate Republicans’ weekly closed-door lunch session, McConnell was asked about the much-criticized stance his party took. He minced a few words but not many.
“We saw it happen,” he said. “It was a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election, from one administration to the next. That’s what it was.”
McConnell’s words were a rebuke to his party’s stance of ignoring, downplaying or, in the case of Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene, actually praising what happened that day. It also comes after months of tussling between him and Trump, who has repeatedly slammed the long-powerful senator who sometimes says bad things about him, except when he doesn’t.
Then again, he’s still Mitch McConnell.