Despite the fact that he left office on Wednesday, it seems clear that former President Donald Trump will be facing a second impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate.
While a handful of Republicans want to see a conviction in their effort to “purge” Trump from the party, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) believes the former president should “continue to engage” with the GOP and maintain an influential place within it, as Fox News reports.
“What he said”
McCarthy, who has previously placed some blame on Trump for his rhetoric leading up to the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol building, has since asserted that he does not believe the then-president incited his supporters to riot.
The deadly siege earlier this month claimed the life of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick and at least four others, according to reports.
Asked whether Trump was to blame for the violence, McCarthy was firm in his response, insisting: “I don’t believe he provoked, if you listen to what he said at the rally.”
His words stood in stark contrast to remarks made by the Senate’s top Republican, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, in an address on Tuesday.
From the Senate floor, McConnell alleged that the rioters “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 which they did not like.”
“When he saw”
For his part, McCarthy shared a somewhat nuanced stance last week when he said the then-president needed to “accept his share of the responsibility” for the deadly mayhem on Capitol Hill.
“The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” the House GOP leader said at the time. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.”
This week, however, his tone had shifted to one of praise for Trump for listening to those who “no one else was hearing” within his party.
“Going forward, every former president still has a role within their party for the time basis,” McCarthy said, according to Fox. “This president brought a lot of great success within. He brought people to the party that hadn’t been involved before. And he should continue to engage in that way.”
Trump gave his supporters some indication that his political ambitions are not finished, declaring in a farewell address that he will “be back in some form,” as Reuters noted.