McConnell made the assertion just weeks after Trump dangled the idea of pardoning every Jan. 6 convict if he wins reelection in 2024. McConnell’s claim also stood in stark contrast to the Republican National Committee’s endorsement last week of the deadly violence unleashed by Jan. 6 attackers as “legitimate political discourse.” In fact, the violent insurrection injured more than a hundred police officers protecting the Capitol that day, several of whom died, and to this day, many officers continue to suffer from ongoing mental anguish due to the trauma of the attack.
Yet, given the choice between the police who defended U.S. lawmakers and the insurrectionists who beat them and defiled the Capitol, both Trump and the national Republican Party sided with the insurrectionists.
Two separate polls this week have shown that roughly two-thirds of Americans oppose pardoning people who participated in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol—one from Politico/Morning Consult and one from Navigator Research.
On Tuesday, McConnell pushed back against the RNC censure resolution declaring the Jan. 6 attack “legitimate political discourse.” Rejecting that characterization outright, McConnell called the pro-Trump assault on the Capitol a “violent insurrection.”
Most congressional Republicans, not wanting to anger McConnell, have conceded that the attack was violent, but almost all of them have taken issue with the word “insurrection.”
“I don’t know that I would go that far. But it was something that we’re not proud of,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama told CNN. “It was violent. I just wouldn’t call it an insurrection.”
Rep. Bob Good of Virginia, a Freedom Caucus member, said only a “small portion” of Jan. 6 rioters broke the law and should be prosecuted. But, he added, “It was not an attempt to overthrow the government. It was not.”
This point of distinction between criminal violence and a full-blown insurrection is surely one of the reasons Republicans had originally insisted on a very narrow investigation of Jan. 6 itself, excluding an exploration of the broader context of what led to the attack. Widening the lens to the events leading up to Jan. 6 makes it glaringly apparent that the Capitol assault was just one small part of a Trump-led conspiracy to overturn a free and fair election.
Regardless, endorsing the Capitol attack, at its core, is an endorsement of lawlessness and chaos, and McConnell desperately wants the Republican Party to be able to claim the mantle of law and order heading into the midterms.
Too bad Donald Trump and the RNC have completely blown up that notion.