Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday issued a terse response to the House Jan. 6 select committee’s decision to refer criminal charges against former President Trump to the Justice Department.
“The entire nation knows who is responsible for that day. Beyond that, I don’t have any immediate observations,” McConnell said in a statement reacting to the House panel voting to refer four criminal charges against Trump to prosecutors in connection to his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The committee, made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans, recommended the Justice Department investigate Trump for inciting insurrection, obstructing an official proceeding, conspiring to defraud the United States and conspiring to make a false statement.
The panel also recommended a formal ethics investigation of the role that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and several allies — Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Scott Perry (R-Pa.) and Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) — played on Jan. 6 and in the days before.
McConnell’s statement responding to the action on the other side of the Capitol was bolder than those from some members of his leadership team.
Retiring Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (Mo.) said he “had no idea” of the details of the referral.
Incoming Senate Republican Conference Vice Chairwoman Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said, “I never heard of Congress instructing [the Justice Department] in that way.”
She said the committee’s work was “obviously politicized.”
McConnell denounced Trump on the Senate floor in February 2021 after the former president was acquitted on the impeachment charge of inciting an insurrection.
“There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day,” McConnell said, after voting to acquit the president on the technical grounds that he no longer held the office.
Since then, McConnell has regularly declined to comment when asked what responsibility Trump bore for spreading the unsubstantiated belief that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.