McConnell says Capitol riot “provoked” by Trump

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) — U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that the attack by President Donald Trump’s supporters on Capitol Hill was “provoked by the president.”

“The last time the Senate convened, we had just reclaimed the Capitol from violent criminals who tried to stop Congress from doing our duty. The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people,” McConnell said of the mob that stormed the Capitol building on Jan. 6, disrupting Congress’s certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory and leaving five people dead.

“They tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government, which they did not like,” added McConnell.

Tuesday is the first day the Senate was back in session from the recess, and it was expected to hold an impeachment trial over the House’s charge of “incitement of insurrection” against Trump.

The remarks by McConnell, who previously said he was undecided as to whether Trump should be convicted in the trial, were a sign that he tried to further distance himself from the president.

McConnell said the Senate was notified by the House of Trump’s impeachment, but that the lower chamber has yet to transmit the article of impeachment. The Senate can’t start the trial until it receives the article.

“While the press has been full of speculation, I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” McConnell wrote in a note to colleagues last week.

McConnell will become the minority leader later this month when the Democratic Party effectively takes control of the Senate following the swearing in of two Democratic senators-elect from Georgia.

The CNN reported Tuesday that Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, the two incoming senators, are expected to be sworn in by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Wednesday afternoon, shortly after Harris assumes the office of the vice president.

The timing is still fluid, though, since Georgia is yet to formally certify the senatorial election results, which should happen before the swearing in.

Harris is also expected to swear in Alex Padilla, a California Democrat who will fill the Senate seat vacated by Harris’s departure. Enditem

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