House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy called on President Donald Trump to “accept his share of responsibility” for the violence that overtook the U.S. Capitol last week and urged Republicans to accept that Joe Biden is the next leader of the nation.
“The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” McCarthy said on the House floor. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action by President Trump."
McCarthy’s public comments, which echo what he told his caucus earlier this week, came as he denounced the effort to impeach Trump for the second time.
McCarthy instead argued for Trump to be censured for his actions in the lead-up to and in the aftermath of the riot led by a pro-Trump mob. Democrats have dismissed such a move as insufficient given the gravity of the insurrection.
McCarthy said that the outgoing president needs to “accept his share of responsibility, quell the brewing unrest and ensure President-Elect Joe Biden is able to successfully begin his term.”
The top House Republican also took members of his own party to task for baselessly speculating that the mob was driven by antifa or other leftist agitators rather than grapple with the reality that it was Trump supporters who laid siege to the Capitol and killed at least one police officer.
“Some say the riots were caused by antifa. There is absolutely no evidence of that,” McCarthy said. “Conservatives should be the first to say so.”
McCarthy’s floor speech came just minutes after Rep. Matt Gaetz, who promoted the theory shortly after the rioters were removed from the Capitol building last week, condemned Democrats’ impeachment campaign.
McCarthy also made clear that Biden is the rightful next president, distancing himself from the continued effort by Trump and others to delegitimize the president-elect’s electoral victory, and he added that it is “not the American way.”
“Let’s be clear, Joe Biden will be sworn in as president of the United States in one week because he won the election,” he said.
The Republican leader is facing a deeply divided caucus that has begun to lash out at one another over the president’s imminent impeachment, with top Trump defenders like Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) attempting to remove Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) — the highest-ranking House Republican backing the effort — from her leadership post as a result of reprimanding Trump in his waning days in office.