McConnell declines to say whether Trump should be charged criminally for Jan. 6
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who condemned former President Trump two years ago for inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, declined Wednesday to say whether Trump should now be criminally charged for those actions
McConnell, asked about a possible indictment of Trump, stated that he does not plan to “critique” GOP candidates for president.
“I’ve said every week out here that I’m not going to comment on the various candidates for the presidency. How I felt about that I expressed at the time, but I’m not going to start getting into sort of critiquing the various candidates for president,” McConnell told reporters when asked whether it would be legitimate for the Justice Department to charge Trump in connection with efforts to stop Congress’s certification of President Biden’s 2020 election victory.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) addresses reporters after the weekly policy luncheon on Wednesday, July 19, 2023. (Greg Nash)
Trump announced Tuesday that special counsel Jack Smith had informed him in a letter that he is the target of a grand jury investigation related to Jan. 6.
The target letter cites three statutes that Trump may be charged under, including the deprivation of rights, conspiracy to commit an offense against or defraud the United States and tampering with a witness, according to news outlets.
McConnell excoriated Trump on the Senate floor in February 2021 at the conclusion of his second impeachment trial for provoking a mob of supporters to march to the U.S. Capitol and overrun its security to stop the certification of the 2020 election.
“There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day. The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president,” McConnell said.
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More than 1,060 people have been charged by federal prosecutors because of their actions that day, and more than 600 people have pleaded guilty, according to a database compiled by National Public Radio.
More than 80 people have been convicted on all charges, while only two people have been acquitted on all charges.
Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.) said Tuesday that being “practically and morally responsible” didn’t necessarily warrant criminal charges and that prosecutors would have to hew closely to the law and facts of the case.
“Practically and morally is something very different than legally, and I think that’s what the Justice Department has to look at. They’ve got to look at the law, the facts as they’ve interviewed people, and then make a determination about whether laws were broken,” he said.
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