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Bill Straub: Despite his early condemnation of Jan. 6 events, McConnell’s one true allegiance remains clear

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell displayed, for him, at least, rare courage and righteousness on Jan. 6 and he has been furiously toiling to bury every last remnant of that spirited demonstration ever since.

The Louisville lawmaker determined, apparently, that boldly speaking the truth and damning the horde, which included erstwhile President Donald J. Trump, was one gigantic error in judgment. So he has been acting like a cowering three-year-old facing the boogeyman ever since, endeavoring to prove that his single act of valor never occurred.

In other words, Addison Mitchell McConnell is a coward who is doing extreme damage by using his influence to hide the facts about a thwarted insurrection against the government of the United States of America, an assault on the Constitution he is sworn to defend “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

He is not worthy of the high position he has attained. Shunning is too good for one who turns his back on his country at a vital moment. Yet we’re stuck with him. And the cancer he has spread through the body politic for the past 36 years will only continue to grow under his direction.

The NKyTribune’s Washington columnist Bill Straub served 11 years as the Frankfort Bureau chief for The Kentucky Post. He also is the former White House/political correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service. A member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, he currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, and writes frequently about the federal government and politics. Email him at williamgstraub@gmail.com

Let’s look back.

On Jan. 6, members of the House and Senate gathered separately to receive the electoral vote tallies of the 2020 presidential election. The numbers established that Democrat Joe Biden had decisively defeated incumbent Republican Trump to lead the nation.

Some folks, mainly white, male and stupid, didn’t care for the results and gathered in the District of Columbia to vent their collective spleen and urge Congress to reject the Electoral College outcome. Egged on by the ever-nefarious Trump, who maintains the lie to this day that he was cheated out of re-election, hundreds stormed the Capitol where the votes were being tabulated.

What ensued was one of the ugliest incidents in U.S. history.

Lawmakers, including McConnell, were rushed to safety. The insurrectionists vandalized and looted America’s seat of government for hours assaulting any individual who got in their way. A gallows was erected on Capitol grounds and the invaders ransacked the joint trying to locate lawmakers with the intent of doing them harm. They looted the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, and occupied the abandoned Senate chamber.

More than 140 people were injured, including a number of Capitol Police officers, and five died. Reports indicate about 450 individuals have subsequently been arrested.

Trump remains at large.

McConnell, then serving as majority leader, called the Senate back into session that evening after the chamber had been secured to continue the electoral vote count.

“I want to say to the American people the United States Senate will not be intimidated,” McConnell said on the floor that night. “We will not be kept out of this chamber by thugs, mobs or threats. We will not bow to lawlessness or intimidation. We are back at our posts.”

McConnell was rightly praised for that statement. Several days later he was back on the Senate floor placing blame where it belonged.

“The mob was fed lies,” he said. “They were provoked by the president and other powerful people. And 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.”

House Democrats quickly impeached Trump for inciting the rioters. McConnell acknowledged that Trump, was “practically and morally responsible” for the revolt, adding, “He did not do his job. He didn’t take steps so federal law could be faithfully executed and order restored.”

Yet McConnell voted against impeachment, the first step in letting Trump off the hook, saying the “former guy” had already vacated office, rendering the issue moot. Regardless, his Orange Eminence blasted McConnell for his rhetoric, stating in response, “Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again. He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our Country.”

Starting with that acquittal vote, McConnell has endeavored to douse any further inquiry. In late February he said he would “absolutely” vote for Trump if he was the GOP presidential candidate in 2024. And now he’s moving to scuttle the congressional initiative to create a special panel – like the commission established to investigate the 9/11 attack – to examine the insurrection and identify the circumstances surrounding it.

Since the implementation of a filibuster would require 60 votes to pass the measure in the 50-50 Senate, McConnell’s opposition all-but-spells doom. He characterized the proposal as “slanted and unbalanced,” even though it was developed as a result of Democrat-Republican negotiations in the House. He further called it “a purely political exercise” that would be used to further attacks against Trump.

“I think at the heart of this recommendation by the Democrats is that they would like to continue to debate things that occurred in the past,” McConnell said. “They want to continue to litigate the former president into the future. We think the American people going forward, and in the fall of 2022, ought to focus on what this administration is doing to the country and what the clear choice is that we have made to oppose most of these initiatives.”

It’s not a Democratic proposal. It was arrived at through bipartisan negotiations.

And unless McConnell is aware of an insurrection in the Capitol occurring sometime in the future where five are killed and dozens injured to essentially overthrow the government, the only way to look at such a serious attack is by looking in the past.

No, McConnell’s entire rationale revolves around power – an investigation into the insurrection could harm the Republican political brand at a time when it is trying to retake the majority in both the House and Senate in the 2022 election.

Some GOP caucus members expressed concern that stonewalling the commission might ultimately harm the party’s chances at the polls. McConnell responded that the commission’s work could prove even worse.

According to Politico: “McConnell warned Republicans at a closed-door meeting on Tuesday that regardless of tweaks to the bill that approving the commission could hurt the party’s midterm election message, according to attendees. He left that room and promptly told reporters that while Democrats want to talk about Trump, voters who’ll determine control of Congress next fall “ought to focus on what this administration is doing to the country.”

McConnell, in that patented oily way he has perfected, maintained that other investigations are underway making any commission’s work duplicative.

Not so.

The Department of Justice is conducting a probe but only in regard to pressing federal criminal charges against the perpetrators. A couple of congressional committees have their own studies going, but they’re concerned about security and communications breakdowns and ways to address those shortfalls.

No entity is conducting anything close to a top-to-bottom review of the circumstances. What was Trump’s role and responsibility? What occurred in the conversation between Trump and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, of California, when the latter called to solicit the then-president’s help in stopping the assault on the seat of government? And, perhaps most importantly of all, did any sitting members of Congress offer any type of assistance to the insurrectionists? There’s a rather infamous photo, after all, of Sen. Josh Hawley, R-MO, giving a raised clenched fist salute to those attending the rally.

Those questions, and dozens of others, will likely go unanswered, perhaps because Addison Mitchell McConnell is aware of the answers and realizes the picture won’t be pretty for the Republicans.

It’s been said an untold number of times before but it always bears repeating – McConnell ultimately always, ALWAYS, places party before country.

In taking his oath of office, six times, as a matter of fact, McConnell swore to “bear true faith and allegiance” to the United States Constitution. Those are empty words coming from his mouth. He has brought shame on himself, shame on the institution he professes to love and shame on the Commonwealth of Kentucky for knowing what a cad he is but sending him back over and over again.

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  1. Gary Price says:

    Excellent article. Unfortunately, McConnell and the Republicans can’t be shamed into doing the moral and right thing.
    Which is worse. John Cena kowtowing to China, throwing the democracy of Taiwan under the bus for ticket sales. Or McConnell and the Republicans kowtowing to Trump, throwing our democracy under the bus for votes.
    Unlike McConnell , John Cena didn’t take an oath of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

  2. Dean Knolls says:

    Trump Derangement Syndrome

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