McConnell thinks Americans should worry about Biden, not Capitol rioters

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He called the bipartisan commission to probe the violent Jan 6. attack a 'purely political' exercise to hurt Republicans in the midterms.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday once again dismissed the idea of a bipartisan commission to probe the violent and deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, saying he wants to focus on attacking President Joe Biden rather than Donald Trump in the lead up to the 2022 midterm elections.

McConnell made the comments at a Tuesday afternoon news conference on Capitol Hill, in which he accused Democrats of wanting to "litigate the former president into the future."

"We think the American people going forward and in the fall of 2022 ought focus on what this administration is doing to the country," McConnell said, adding that the Jan. 6 commission framework that passed the House last week on a bipartisan vote is, "A purely political exercise that adds nothing to the sum total of information."

It's a tacit admission from McConnell that he believes an outside commission would hurt the GOP in its quest to win the House and Senate majorities in the 2022 midterms. Other GOP leaders have already said publicly that they view the commission as a trap to hurt them in the midterms, including Sen. John Thune (R-SD) who said the commission could be a "political weapon in the hands of the Democrats."

Despite McConnell's claim that it would be "purely partisan," the commission would be bipartisan in nature, with an equal number of members appointed by Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress. Any subpoenas would require support from a majority of the commission's members, meaning GOP-appointed commissioners would have to vote to approve them.

In fact, the commission is modeled after the 9/11 commission that probed the deadly terrorist attacks on the country in 2001.

Even some Republicans disputed McConnell's claim that a Jan. 6 commission would be partisan and a misstep for Republicans.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) told reporters on Capitol Hill that if Senate Republicans reject the commission, congressional Democrats would launch their own partisan commission that could be even worse for the GOP — comparing it to Republicans' Benghazi investigation that helped doom Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential bid.

"It seems like this would be a better approach," Cassidy told reporters of the Jan. 6 commission, according to HuffPost's Igor Bobic.

Democrats, for their part, are up in arms over his opposition to the commission.

"His members' *lives* were threatened," Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) tweeted in response to McConnell's comments. "Not their jobs, their lives. The lives of the Vice President and the Speaker of the House were threatened. It isn't political to try to find out how that happened, it is common sense. Trying to hide the truth on purpose is political."

Ultimately, McConnell's opposition makes it unlikely that there will be 10 GOP Senate votes to avoid a filibuster.

And filibustering a commission to examine a domestic terrorist attack at the Capitol could give Democrats ammunition to ditch the arcane Senate procedure.

"If we can’t even get a bipartisan commission to investigate an insurrection, then the filibuster has to go," Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) told NBC News.

Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema — who still support the filibuster — "implored" Republicans not to use it to block the formation of a commission. But it's unclear whether Republicans actually using the filibuster in this instance would change their position on keeping the filibuster in place.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.