"The last time the Senate convened, we had just reclaimed the Capitol from violent criminals who tried to stop Congress from doing our duty. The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people," McConnell said on the Senate floor.
President Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives last week on a single charge of "incitement of insurrection" in a 232-197 vote. Ten Republicans crossed the aisle to vote in favor of impeachment.
McConnell's comments come as he is negotiating the details of the upcoming impeachment trial with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. McConnell has not decided if he will vote to convict President Trump.
McConnell said the even though the Republicans lost control of the Senate, the American people did not give either party "a mandate for sweeping ideological change." The Senate is split with 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be the deciding vote in any legislation that is tied.
"Certainly November's elections did not hand any side a mandate for sweeping ideological change," said McConnell. "Americans elected a closely divided Senate, a closely divided House, and a presidential candidate who said he'd represent everyone."
"So our marching orders from the American people are clear," said McConnell. "We're to have a robust discussion and seek common ground. We are to pursue bipartisan agreement everywhere we can, and check and balance one another, respectfully, where we must."
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