Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly asked certain Republicans who would be likely to support the formation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the circumstances and aftermath of the Capitol insurrection to vote against the proposal “as a personal favour” to him.
CNN’s Jamie Gangel said Republican lawmakers were “really caught by surprise” by Mr McConnell’s language ahead of a critical vote on a measure to create the commission, with one source calling it “despicable”, according to Ms Gangel.
His objections follow last week’s passage of the measure, with 35 Republicans defying House Republican leadership to support a resolution written with bipartisan support. The measure is unlikely to meet the 60-vote threshold in an evenly divided Senate.
House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy announced his opposition to the commission on 18 May. That night, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said he would whip his GOP colleagues against it.
Mr McConnell announced he was “undecided” on a vote that night.
Following Donald Trump’s acquittal in the Senate in his second impeachment trial over inciting the assault, fuelled by a false “stolen election” narrative that sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election as members of Congress convened to certify them, Mr McConnell said unequivocally that “there’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking” the riot.
Despite voting against convicting him, Mr McConnell said the riot followed a “growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth”.
But on 18 May, the former president issued a statement raging against the commission proposal, pushing Republicans to “get much tougher” and echoing the deflection among GOP lawmakers to instead investigate “murders, riots and fire bombings” in cities run by Democrats.
“Hopefully, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy are listening!” he said.
The following morning, Senator McConnell announced his opposition to what he called a “slanted and unbalanced proposal” from House Democrats.
“It’s not at all clear what new facts or additional investigation yet another commission could lay on top of the existing efforts by law enforcement and Congress,” he said on the Senate floor.
On Thursday, Mr McConnell claimed that he did not believe the commission would uncover any “new facts” or “promote healing” though there remains an opaque timeline of events and no clear understanding of what the administration, lawmakers or law enforcement knew, four months after the assault.
“I do not believe the additional, extraneous commission that Democratic leaders want would uncover crucial new facts, or promote healing,” he said. “Frankly, I do not believe it is even designed to do that.”
Democratic Senator Joe Manchin – who has objected to calls to nuke the filibuster that Republicans are likely to invoke to block the commission – slammed Mr McConnell for leading efforts to obstruct a vote.
“There is no excuse for any Republican to vote against this commission since Democrats have agreed to everything they asked for,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
“Mitch McConnell has made this his political position, thinking it will help his 2022 election,” Mr Manchin added. “They do not believe the truth will set you free, so they continue to live in fear.”
Mr McConnell’s office did not return The Independent’s request for comment.
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