Reprinted with permission from American Independent
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed in an account published Sunday that he declined to publicly confront former President Donald Trump's election lies because he did not want to upset Trump and wanted to win Senate elections in Georgia.
The Atlantic's Jonathan Karl reported that ahead of two January runoff Senate elections in Georgia, McConnell told then-Attorney General William Barr that he wanted Barr to confront Trump over his lies about the 2020 election results and would not do so himself.
"Look, we need the president in Georgia," he said. According to Karl's reporting, McConnell was afraid Trump would "sabotage" the Georgia campaigns if he declared Joe Biden had won the election. "And so we cannot be frontally attacking him right now. But you're in a better position to inject some reality into this situation. You are really the only one who can do it."
Karl said Barr provided the story in an interview and noted, "McConnell confirms the account."
Campaigning for then-Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, Trump continued to promote conspiracy theories and falsehoods about the election he had lost to Biden.
"They cheated and rigged our presidential election, but we'll still win," Trump said at a rally in Valdosta, Georgia, on December 5. On January 4, the day before the runoffs, Trump repeated the lies at a rally in Dalton, saying, "By the way, there is no way we lost Georgia. There's no way. That was a rigged election. But we are still fighting it."
Although in a speech in the Senate on December 15, 2020, McConnell did acknowledge that Biden was president-elect, he did not push back against Trump's lies.
On January 6, after Republicans lost both elections in Georgia and Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock were declared to have won election to the Senate, Trump appeared at the "Stop the Steal" rally in Washington, D.C., during which he reiterated his lies about the election results.
Trump's comments at the rally were cited as evidence during his impeachment in the House on charges of inciting a mob of his supporters to walk to the Capitol and break in, in an attempt to overturn election results he and they still called fraudulent.
It was only after the attack that McConnell admitted that Trump had circulated "wild falsehoods" and that his incitement of the mob was a "disgraceful dereliction of duty." Nonetheless, McConnell still sided with a majority of Senate Republicans to acquit Trump during his second impeachment trial.
Trump has continued to lie about losing the election. On Sunday, he told supporters at a rally in Ohio that the result of the 2020 election was "the scam of the century and this was the crime of the century."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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