Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday said President Trump “fed lies” to the mob that stormed Congress, blaming Mr. Trump for the riot in the starkest terms yet as the Senate prepares for an impeachment trial.
“The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people,” said Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican.
He delivered the remarks when the upper chamber gaveled in for the first time since the House impeached Mr. Trump for inciting the Jan. 6. violence at the U.S. Capitol that targeted Congress’ formal acceptance of the 2020 election results in favor of President-elect Joseph R. Biden.
At least five people have died following the deadly uprising.
The Senate trial, which would be the first of a president no longer in office, is expected to start soon after Democrats assume majority control of the chamber Friday.
The White House had no immediate reaction to Mr. McConnell‘s remarks.
The president in recent days denied any responsibility for the attack on the Capitol. He said his speech to a massive rally in Washington just before the riot was “totally appropriate.”
Law enforcement has been seeking those responsible for breaching security and entering the Capitol on Jan. 6. Mr. McConnell said the FBI has made at least 100 arrests and the Justice Department has more than 275 people under investigation.
“A number that is climbing fast. I commend the work of the Department to swiftly investigate and bring offenders to justice,” he said.
Senate Democratic leader Charles E. Schumer said Wednesday will mark a peaceful transfer of power, and Americans must be vigilant in the future.
“Rioters, insurrectionists, White supremacists and domestic terrorists tried to prevent the transfer of power. They were incited by none other than the president of the United States. They have failed,” Mr. Schumer said. “Democracy’s oldest and most revered tradition — the peaceful passing of the torch — will take place tomorrow.”
The New York Democrat said his chamber will aim to repair the economy and the reputation of the country around the world.
He said they’ll tackle a second impeachment trial against Mr. Trump, confirm Mr. Biden’s Cabinet officials and provide COVID-19 relief.
“That’s three essential items of business,” Mr. Schumer said.
Both Mr. Schumer and Mr. McConnell praised law enforcement and troops for keeping the nation’s capital secure.
• Dave Boyer contributed to this report.