The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

McConnell says what the Jan. 6 committee uncovers is ‘something the public needs to know’

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill on Dec. 16.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill on Dec. 16. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) signaled support for the bipartisan House committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, saying what the panel is trying to uncover is “something the public needs to know.”

In an interview with Spectrum News that aired Thursday, McConnell said he looks forward to hearing what else the committee will reveal about the insurrection, a view that puts him at odds with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who has attacked the work of the panel as purely political.

“I think the fact-finding is interesting. We’re all going to be watching it,” McConnell said. “It was a horrendous event, and I think what they’re seeking to find out is something the public needs to know.”

McConnell’s statements are noteworthy given that earlier this year he opposed the creation of a bipartisan, independent commission tasked with investigating the worst attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812 and President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election. In May, McConnell said a commission investigating the attack would be, under Democratic leadership, “slanted and unbalanced.”

The House select committee investigating the attempted insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 faces an uphill battle with former Trump administration officials. (Video: Blair Guild/The Washington Post)

On Tuesday, McConnell told reporters he was closely following the investigation, a day before the House voted to hold former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena issued by the special panel.

“We’re all watching, as you are, what is unfolding on the House side, and it will be interesting to reveal all the participants involved,” McConnell said.

In the Thursday interview, McConnell said he did not have an “evaluation of the performance of the committee” after being asked what he thought of the performance of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) this week when she made key revelations against Meadows as the panel argued to the House that he must be held under criminal contempt. Cheney, the panel’s vice chairman, and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), are the only two Republicans on the panel and have been largely ostracized from the House Republican caucus for participating in the investigation.

A spokesman for the Jan. 6 committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

McConnell, in the Thursday interview, also addressed the criticism he’s faced from Trump in the past few months. The former president has launched an attack against the Kentucky Republican, calling him a “broken old crow” and pressing for him to be replaced as Republican leader. McConnell largely dismissed those calls.

“We’re dealing with the present and the future. We have a new administration: How are they doing? What is our reaction to it?” McConnell said. “I spend my time dealing with the present and the future, and not the past.”