One of the most senior US Republicans has accused Donald Trump of feeding supporters lies that led to the deadly Capitol riot.
Mitch McConnell, leader of the GOP in the Senate, accused the outgoing president on his last full day in office of having “provoked” those who stormed the building where legislators narrowly escaped a baying mob.
And in a further snub to Mr Trump, who has claimed without evidence held up in court that last November’s election was rigged, Mr McConnell vowed the inauguration of Joe Biden on Wednesday will be “safe and successful”.
The intervention comes ahead of tomorrow’s transfer of powers in the White House, with a markedly different ceremony than usual planned for Mr Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
Coronavirus and the serious security breaches that led to five deaths two weeks ago mean participation at the event in Washington DC will be drastically reduced.
Ahead of it, Mr McConnell opened the Senate on Tuesday – also his final day as Majority leader, before Ms Harris takes over and swings its political make-up in favour of the Democrats.
“The mob was fed lies,” he declared about the Capitol riot.
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“They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of branch of the federal government.”
Mr McConnell added that “we’ll move forward” after Mr Biden’s inauguration on the Capitol’s West Front – what he noted former president George HW Bush has called “democracy’s front porch”.