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McCarthy says Trump did not provoke attack on Capitol

USA Today
Rep. Kevin McCarthy

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said former President Donald Trump did not provoke the attack at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month, splitting with fellow Republican leader Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and remarks the California Republican made just last week.

“I don't believe he provoked, if you listened to what he said at the rally,” McCarthy said Thursday, referencing the rally Trump held with protesters who rioted at the Capitol. 

McCarthy, R-Calif., said last week Trump "bears responsibility" in the attack but did not back efforts to impeach him.

McCarthy also denied that he himself played any part in the events leading up to the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol despite backing Republican efforts to block counting of Electoral College votes to support Trump. 

“I denounce any violence,” McCarthy said at his weekly news conference, noting that both parties over the years had challenged the counting of certain states. “This is democracy. We should debate it.”

McConnell, his GOP counterpart in the Senate, publicly condemned Trump earlier this week and said the former president provoked the attack.

“The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Tuesday, casting a clear shot not only at Trump but fellow Republicans who backed the president’s efforts to overturn election results.

McCarthy added that he believes Trump would continue to play a role in the Republican Party and laid the groundwork for a new voting base. 

“One thing we learned in the last four years that President Trump brought forward, that he listened to voices that no one else was hearing in either party,” McCarthy said. “Those are voices we should continue to hear.”