A growing number of Republicans are pushing back against Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) after he made comments that former President Donald Trump “provoked” protesters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
McConnell, the party leader in a tied Senate, has also left open the possibility of voting to convict Trump in a Senate impeachment trial set to take place even though Trump is no longer in office.
The vast majority of Republican voters still support Trump, and many Republican lawmakers also back him.
Trump support not going away
“What we need right now is for Sen. McConnell to unequivocally say that the second impeachment of Donald Trump after he leaves office is not only unconstitutional, it is bad for the country, and stand up and fight back,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said in a Fox News interview.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) didn’t mention fellow Kentucky Senator McConnell by name, but also said on Fox News that if“Republicans, particularly Republican leadership, goes along with this impeachment, they’ll destroy the party.”
Among those also blasting McConnell are conservative media voices that have stood firm with Trump like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson.
“Establishment Republicans have no backbone, no principle, no courage, no vision,” Hannity said during his show. “We need new leadership in the U.S. Senate.”
Tucker Carlson called McConnell and other establishment Republicans “foolish old frauds” during an interview with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK), suggesting that Trump voters could reject the Republican Party altogether if they continue to blast Trump and his supporters.
McConnell blasts Biden moves
McConnell did blast several moves made by President Joe Biden on his first day in office to undo the Trump agenda, including rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and canceling permits for the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
“On the Biden administration’s very first day, it took several big steps in the wrong direction,” McConnell said. He also reminded Biden that he didn’t “owe his election to the far-left.”
He warned that Republicans in the Senate would work to block moves they didn’t agree with, such as Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill proposal and a new immigration plan.