Transcript: Mitch McConnell’s Trump impeachment speech

US Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial:

“January 6th was a disgrace.

“American citizens attacked their own government. They used terrorism to try to stop a specific piece of democratic business they did not like.

“Fellow Americans beat and bloodied our own police. They stormed the Senate floor. They tried to hunt down the Speaker of the House. They built a gallows and chanted about murdering the vice president.

“They did this because they had been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth – because he was angry he’d lost an election.

“Former President Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty.

“The House accused the former president of, quote, ‘incitement.’ That is a specific term from the criminal law.

“Let me put that to the side for one moment and reiterate something I said weeks ago: 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.

“And their having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth.

“The issue is not only the president’s intemperate language on January 6th.

“It is not just his endorsement of remarks in which an associate urged ‘trial by combat’.

“It was also the entire manufactured atmosphere of looming catastrophe; the increasingly wild myths about a reverse landslide election that was being stolen in some secret coup by our now-president.

“I defended the president’s right to bring any complaints to our legal system. The legal system spoke. The Electoral College spoke. As I stood up and said clearly at the time, the election was settled.

“But that reality just opened a new chapter of even wilder and more unfounded claims.

“The leader of the free world cannot spend weeks thundering that shadowy forces are stealing our country and then feign surprise when people believe him and do reckless things.

“Sadly, many politicians sometimes make overheated comments or use metaphors that unhinged listeners might take literally.

“This was different.

“This was an intensifying crescendo of conspiracy theories, orchestrated by an outgoing president who seemed determined to either overturn the voters’ decision or else torch our institutions on the way out.

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