Senate Republican Leaders weakly sidestepped defending former President Donald Trump after the Jan. 6 House committee made numerous criminal referrals to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday.
To no one’s surprise, the committee revealed four categories of criminal activity that were forwarded to the DOJ. They included obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to make a false statement, and inciting an insurrection.
When questioned about the panel’s action, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) replied that “the entire nation knows who is responsible for that day.” He added, “beyond that, I don’t have any immediate observations.”
His statement is hardly a revelation, given that in Feb. 2021 McConnell expressed that “the people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.”
— New York Post (@nypost) December 20, 2022
In the aftermath of these and other statements, Trump attempted to spearhead the unseating of the Minority Leader earlier this year. That effort did not succeed.
Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) told The Hill that “it’s up to Justice now.” When asked if he believed the House committee carried out a credible investigation of the former president, Thune remarked that “(The panel) interviewed some credible witnesses.”
He at least acknowledged that the panel was constructed to oppose the former president with its makeup of seven Democrats and two staunchly anti-Trump Republicans.
A member of McConnell’s leadership team, the retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), declared the Jan. 6 committee’s report is “important” despite its partisan nature.
He went further, almost praising the panel for getting statements from “most of the people they wanted.” This, he said, is important for the “historical record.”
Beyond the criminal referrals concerning Trump, the committee recommended that the House Ethics Committee investigate House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) along with Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Scott Perry (R-PA), and Andy Biggs (R-AZ).
As for Trump, the candidate for president in 2024 dismissed the criminal referrals on his social media platform, Truth Social. He posted that the panel does not understand that they actually “strengthened” him. People who love freedom, he explained, “rally around me.”
The same cannot be said for the Senate Republican leadership.