McConnell stays mum as Republicans who voted for impeachment face political backlash

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U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell avoided questions Wednesday when asked whether he’s concerned about how many Republicans believe the 2020 Presidential election wasn’t valid and the rising political consequences for elected Republicans who have acknowledged President Joe Biden’s victory was valid.

“100 percent of my focus is on standing up to this administration,” McConnell said when asked if he was concerned that a large swath of Republican voters believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen. “What we have in the United States Senate is total unity from Susan Collins to Ted Cruz in opposition to what the new Biden Administration is trying to do to this country.”

Jen Psaki, Biden’s Press Secretary, later criticized McConnell’s statement — which was reminiscent of when he said the goal for Republicans was to make former President Barack Obama a “one-term president” — saying the White House was willing to work with Republicans.

“I guess the contrast for people to consider is 100% of our focus is on delivering relief to the American people, and getting the pandemic under control, and putting people back to work,” Psaki said. “And we welcome support, engagement, and work with Republicans on that. The president has extended an open arm to that. The door to the Oval Office is open.”

It is not unusual for McConnell to want to talk about his opposition to the Biden Administration instead of former President Donald Trump, who was the largest perpetrator of the baseless claims that the presidential election was stolen, but Trump continues to create political chaos for McConnell.

Although McConnell is one of the senators who said publicly on the Senate floor that Biden’s election was valid and warned about the consequences of invalidating elections based on the outcome, he has refused to wade further into the conflict, even as it has begun to have consequences for other Republicans in leadership positions.

On Wednesday, POLITICO reported that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, is quickly moving to oust Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, from her position as the third-ranking Republican in the House after she voted for Trump’s impeachment in January and has continued to criticize Trump’s role in the Republican Party.

Trump himself issued a statement criticizing Cheney, McConnell and former Vice President Mike Pence Wednesday morning.

“Had Mike Pence referred the information on six states (only need two) back to State Legislatures, and had gutless and clueless MINORITY Leader Mitch McConnell (he blew two seats in Georgia that should have never been lost) fought to expose all of the corruption that was presented at the time, with more found since, we would have had a far different Presidential result, and our Country would not be turning into a socialist nightmare!” Trump wrote. “Never give up!”

The baseless claims about widespread voter fraud have taken hold among MANY Republican voters even though there have only been 16 instances of people being charged with attempting to vote illegally in the 2020 election. The Trump campaign also lost all of the lawsuits it brought challenging the election results. An April CNN poll found that 70 percent of Republicans surveyed did not believe Biden won the presidential election, including 50 percent who believed there is solid evidence that Biden didn’t win even though no such evidence has been produced.

McConnell has faced his own backlash in Kentucky. In January, McConnell allies knocked down a resolution in the Republican State Central Committee that would have urged him to back Trump against his second impeachment. The resolution was brought by a contingency of local party chairpersons who were enraged at McConnell for not sufficiently defending Trump.

When asked if he would help Cheney keep her position, McConnell pivoted by saying the Biden Administration and Democrats could make America a “socialist country.”

McClatchy DC Reporter Michael Wilner contributed reporting from Washington.

Kentucky Republican leaders knock down resolution urging McConnell to stand by Trump

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