McConnell Blasts Trump's 'Conspiracy Theories' as He Shuts Down Coup Attempt

The Senate majority leader excoriated the outgoing president, and warned that U.S. democracy would enter a 'death spiral' if Trump's attempted coup succeeded.
January 6, 2021, 7:01pm
Mitch McConnell
Mitch McConnell speaks during a news conference with other Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. (Rod Lamkey/Pool via AP)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered a stinging rebuke to President Trump’s conspiracy-laden coup attempt on Wednesday, calling out the outgoing president and his congressional lackeys for seeking to subvert the U.S. Constitution and reject the results of the 2020 election.

“The Constitution gives us here in Congress a limited role. We cannot simply declare ourselves a national board of elections on steroids,” McConnell said during the Electoral College certification on Capitol Hill as the Senate began debate on Republicans’ attempts to reject the electoral votes from Arizona. “The voters, the courts, and the states have all spoken. They’ve all spoken. If we overrule them, it would damage our republic forever.”

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McConnell said that Trump’s claims that the election was stolen were based partly on “sweeping conspiracy theories,” and pointed out that court after court had rejected those claims, including judges who Trump had nominated and McConnell helped confirm. And he said there was no evidence of voter fraud at “anywhere near the massive scale… that would have tipped the entire election.”

He also warned that American democracy would enter a “death spiral” if Trump’s efforts succeeded. 

“If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral. We'd never see the whole nation accept an election again. Every four years would be a scramble for power at any cost.”

The comments come on a momentous day, as Trump held a rally near the White House where he once again refused to accept the election results, and shortly after, as a mob of pro-Trump protestors attempted to breach the Capitol complex building. Capitol Police ordered the evacuation of two House office buildings just minutes before McConnell spoke.

McConnell took aim not just at Trump but also at some of his own GOP Senate colleagues, who have gone along with Trump’s coup attempts by agreeing to try to reject electors from a half-dozen states that President-elect Joe Biden won in November’s elections.

“I believe protecting our constitutional order requires respecting the limits of our own power,” he said. “It would be unfair and wrong to disenfranchise the voters and overrule the states on this extraordinarily thin basis. And I will not pretend such a vote will be a harmless protest gesture while relying on others to do the right thing.”

McConnell quietly stood by for weeks as Trump spread false conspiracies claiming that the election had been stolen from him, and refused to acknowledge Biden’s win until the day after the Electoral College voted to officially confirm the results. But as Trump’s escalating accusations of conspiracy theories morphed into actual calls for a coup, McConnell had enough.