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Mitch McConnell Saw the Insurrection Clearly and Then Decided He Liked It

McConnell now considers protecting the insurrectionists a personal favor.
May 27, 2021
Mitch McConnell Saw the Insurrection Clearly and Then Decided He Liked It
Has this man asked YOU for a special favor recently? (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

In February, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell described the events of January 6 and laid out the case against former President Trump in stark, unequivocal terms. The assault on the Capitol was an act of “terrorism.” An “attack” on our government. “Fellow Americans beat and bloodied police,” he intoned. And they did all of this for one reason: “They’d been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on earth because he was angry.”

These are not weasel words. McConnell made it clear that he understood that Donald Trump had blood on his hands. He said Trump was both “practically and morally responsible” for this deadly domestic terrorist attack. He knew that those who died at the Capitol that day, and those who suffered grievous injuries, did so only because Donald Trump was trying to overturn an election with deliberate, premeditated lies.

Of course, that speech came after McConnell voted to acquit Trump on the article of impeachment that was passed concerning Trump’s role in the insurrection. That was weird. But the minority leader’s allies claimed that the combination of this vote to acquit and the speech created a healthy balance: On one side, the public would hear McConnell’s rage over the former president’s sullying the institution of the Senate; and on the other, prudential and legalistic quibbles surrounding the process of impeachment.

Seen in this light, McConnell’s speech was an effort to have it both ways. He wanted to protect the Republican party and his status as a leader from an irreconcilable split that would have resulted had the former president been convicted and banned from running for office again. But he also wanted to be a voice for the donors, supporters, and colleagues who shared his genuine horror at the events of January 6.

At least that was the story at the time.

But a new report from CNN’s Jamie Gangel paints these claims of genuine anger in a different light.

Gangel reports that McConnell is deeply concerned that lobbying from the late officer Brian Sicknick’s mother will cause Republican members to lose their resolve and agree to a bipartisan commission that looks into the events of January 6. Gangel says that McConnell is now asking members to vote against said commission as a “personal favor.”

A personal favor.

Let’s not split hairs here. A person who is capable of normal human emotions, a person who could actually feel genuine rage over a bloody siege of a place he claimed to love, could not, three months later, look at the mother of the deceased and tell her to pound sand because there’s a midterm election to consider. That is the action of a coldhearted, conniving, calculating monster.

A monster who has decided that he wants to team up with the person he knows orchestrated the attempted coup and the resulting carnage.

Mitch McConnell himself said Donald Trump was “morally and practically responsible” for trauma that Sicknick and others suffered at the Capitol. Now he wants to protect the perpetrator of that crime for accountability—for a second time.

And after that McConnell wants to put this perpetrator back in charge of the government in 2024.

When a person shows you exactly what they think, you should believe them.

Mitch McConnell has had four months to think about Donald Trump’s deadly coup attempt. He decided that he liked it. And now he’s doing everything in his power to give Trump a chance at an encore.

Tim Miller

Tim Miller is The Bulwark’s writer-at-large and the author of the best-selling book Why We Did It: A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell. He was previously political director for Republican Voters Against Trump and communications director for Jeb Bush 2016.