Ask the Senate minority leader about something that he doesn’t want to talk about, and he will give you a “haven’t seen that” or “don’t have anything to say about that” as easy as Steph Curry shooting a three.
Which is what makes McConnell’s willingness to engage on a question from CNN’s Manu Raju about the January 6 committee all the more intriguing.
“We are all watching, as you are, what is unfolding on the House side and it will be interesting to reveal all of the participants who were involved,” McConnell told Manu on Tuesday.
Interesting! Especially when you consider what we know of McConnell’s view on January 6.
McConnell was pointedly noncommittal about how he would vote on the impeachment of Donald Trump for his role on January 6. “I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” McConnell wrote in a letter to his Republican Senate colleagues back in January.
McConnell eventually voted to acquit Trump but went to the Senate floor shortly afterward and lit into the former President.
“There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day,” McConnell said at the time. “The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their President.”
Those words were among the harshest direct at Trump by any Republican — particularly one like McConnell who holds a powerful seat in party leadership.
Because Trump is Trump, he has repeatedly gone after McConnell in the months following the impeachment vote and has even worked to recruit someone within the Senate to challenge McConnell for his leadership post.
What’s McConnell doing here? He clearly wants to send a message across his party that he will not be part of the group who attacks the January 6 committee investigation as a partisan witch hunt. And at least opening the door to taking seriously the eventual findings of the committee and whoever among sitting members it implicates could have been involved in wrongdoing.
Before we let one McConnell quote lead us too far down a rabbit hole, however, it’s worth remembering that the Senate minority leader single-handledly ended the chances of a bipartisan commission to investigate the events of January 6.
“After careful consideration, I’ve made the decision to oppose the House Democrats slanted and unbalanced proposal for another commission to study the events of January 6th,” said McConnell on the Senate floor in May. “As everybody surely knows, I repeatedly made my views about the events of January 6th very clear. I spoke clearly and left no doubt about my conclusions.”
What to make of McConnell’s latest comments about the January 6 commission? The most obvious read is that he wants to make clear that he is watching what the House select committee is doing and interested to see its conclusions. Will those conclusions compel McConnell to take any actions against his fellow Republicans? If past is prologue, nope!