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Top Republicans called January 6 a 'failed insurrection' while some blamed Trump. Here's where 5 of them stand a year later.

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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia speaks during a joint session of Congress in the early hours of January 7, 2021.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia speaks during a joint session of Congress in the early hours of January 7, 2021.

  • In the wake of the January 6 attack, top Republican figures condemned the attack and blamed Trump.
  • But in the year since, several have changed their tune, shifting blame elsewhere or seeking to move on.
  • Here's what Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, Mike Pence, Lindsey Graham, and Nikki Haley have all said.

One year ago, a mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump breached the Capitol, halting the counting of the country's electoral votes while imperiling the safety of members of Congress, congressional staff, and others who were working in the building on that day.

In the immediate wake of the attack, Republican leaders were nearly unanimous in expressing their horror at an unprecedented assault on an institution central to American democracy. Many blamed Trump for inciting the attack, some floated the prospect of censuring the former president, and others questioned his future in the party.

Trump was impeached by the House for inciting the insurrection, but then acquitted by the Senate. Still, 10 Republican House members voted to impeach and 7 Republican senators voted to convict, joining with every Democrat in the most bipartisan impeachment vote in American history.

But in the year since, Republicans have gradually changed their tune as both political expediency and the the continued grip of former president on the party have coaxed many to minimize the events of that day.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

Sen. Mitch McConnell, then still the majority leader, walks through the Rotunda towards the House Chamber on January 6, 2021.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, then still the majority leader, walks through the Rotunda towards the House Chamber on January 6, 2021.

While McConnell has not contradicted his initial declaration that Trump bears responsibility for the assault on the Capitol, he has changed his mind more than once about the effort to investigate the attack and has expressed an openness to supporting Trump again in 2024.

January 6, following the assault on the Capitol:

"This failed attempt to obstruct the Congress, this failed insurrection, only underscores how crucial the task before us is for our Republic."

January 19, ahead of Biden's inauguration:

"This mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the President and other powerful people."

February 13, after the Senate acquitted Trump during his 2nd impeachment:

"Former President Trump's actions that preceded the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty… There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day."

February 25, on whether he would support Trump in 2024 if he were the Republican nominee:

"The nominee of the party? Absolutely."

May 27, as the Senate voted on a bipartisan January 6 commission:

"There is no new fact about that day that we need the Democrats' extraneous 'commission' to uncover." 

December 16, in an interview:

"I think that what they're seeking to find out is something the public needs to know," he said, referring to the January 6 select committee.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy addresses the House Chamber on January 6, 2021.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy addresses the House Chamber on January 6, 2021.

In the year since the attack, McCarthy has gone from directly blaming Trump and his movement for the attack to shifting some of the blame onto congressional Democrats, calling attention to security measures at the Capitol rather than the root causes of the assault.

January 11, in a phone call with then-President Trump:

"It's not Antifa, it's MAGA. I know. I was there."

January 13, as the House debated impeaching Trump:

"The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters." McCarthy also floated censuring Trump.

January 21, speaking with reporters about the Capitol riot:

"I don't believe he provoked it if you listen to what he said at the rally."

July 21, at a press conference:

"We will run our own investigation" into law enforcement failures at the Capitol.

January 2, 2022, in a letter to House Republican colleagues:

"Unfortunately, one year later, the majority party seems no closer to answering the central question of how the Capitol was left so unprepared and what must be done to ensure it never happens again. Instead, they are using it as a partisan political weapon to further divide our country."

Former Vice President Mike Pence

Former Vice President Mike Pence arrives at the House Chamber following the assault on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Former Vice President Mike Pence arrives at the House Chamber following the assault on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Pence — a stated target of some of the January 6 rioters — has remained largely quiet since the end of Trump's term, seeking not to cross the former president as he reportedly lays the groundwork for a future presidential run. Even after attending Biden's inauguration without Trump, Pence still has not publicly blamed Trump for the violence of that day.

March 3, in an op-ed for The Daily Signal:

"The tragic events of Jan. 6—the most significant being the loss of life and violence at our nation's Capitol—also deprived the American people of a substantive discussion in Congress about election integrity in America."

June 24, in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library:

"The truth is there is almost no idea more un-American than the idea that one person could choose the president. The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone." 

September 12, speaking to a woman impersonating a Capitol rioter:

"I love your heart, thank you."

October 5, in an interview on Sean Hannity's Fox News show:

"I know the media wants to distract from the Biden administration's failed agenda by focusing on one day in January. They want to use that one day to try and demean the character and intentions of 74 million Americans who believed we could be strong again and prosperous again and supported our administration in 2016 and 2020."

December 1, in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network:

"I'm not going to allow the Democrats or the national media to use one tragic day in January to demean the intentions of 74 million people who stood with us in our cause."

Sen. Lindsey Graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina speaks during a news conference at the Capitol on January 7, 2021.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina speaks during a news conference at the Capitol on January 7, 2021.

Graham has remained steadfast in his denunciation of the attack on the Capitol, as well as the folly of Trump's push to overturn the election results. But he has also been steadfast in his commitment to maintaining a relationship with the former President.

January 6, referring to the effort to overturn the election:

"Trump and I, we've had a hell of a journey. I hate it to end this way, oh my god, I hate it. From my point of view, he's been a consequential president… all I can say is count me out. Enough is enough. I've tried to be helpful."

January 7, the day after the riot:

"It breaks my heart that my friend, a president of consequence, were to allow yesterday to happen, and it will be a major part of his presidency. It was a self-inflicted wound. It was going too far."

February, regarding Trump's future in the party:

"He was successful for conservatism and people appreciate his fighting spirit, he's going to dominate the party for years to come. The way I look at it, there is no way we can achieve our goals without Trump."

August, in an interview with the New York Times:

"That was taken as, 'I'm out, count me out,' that somehow, you know, that I'm done with the president," he said. "No! What I was trying to say to my colleagues and to the country was, 'This process has come to a conclusion.'

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks at the Republican National Convention on August 24, 2020.
Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks at the Republican National Convention on August 24, 2020.

Haley, who served as ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, moved quickly to denounce the former President in the wake of January 6 but has since rapidly pivoted away from that position. She is a rumored 2024 presidential candidate, but has indicated that she would not seek to challenge the former president for the nomination.

January 7, the day after the riot, in a speech to the Republican National Committee:

"He was badly wrong with his words yesterday. And it wasn't just his words. His actions since Election Day will be judged harshly by history."

January 26, on Fox News, regarding impeachment:

"They beat him up before he got into office. They are beating him up after he leaves office… I mean, at some point, I mean, give the man a break. I mean, move on."

February, in an interview with Politico:

"He's not going to run for federal office again," she said of Trump. "I don't think he can. He's fallen so far."

"He went down a path he shouldn't have, and we shouldn't have followed him, and we shouldn't have listened to him. And we can't let that ever happen again."

April 21, after declaring that she would support Trump if he ran in 2024:

"I would not run if President Trump ran, and I would talk to him about it," she added. "That's something that we will have a conversation about, at some point."

October 5, in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library:

"We need him in the Republican Party. I don't want us to go back to the days before Trump."

Read the original article on Business Insider
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