GOP leaders silent as Trump casts Jan. 6 rioters as political prisoners

Trump’s willingness to not only sweep the Jan. 6 riot under the rug, but to embrace its perpetrators as political martyrs, has been met with silence by GOP congressional leaders, despite their stated desire to move on from the past and focus the party on opposing President Biden’s governing agenda.

House Republican leaders have yet to fully denounce the “Justice for J6” rally in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, even as pro-Trump members in the conference, like Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), previously argued in defense of insurrectionists outside of the Justice Department this summer. With Trump warning his supporters not to attend, calling it a “setup” meant to embarrass him in a recent interview, even sympathetic right-wing lawmakers have kept their distance from the event.

But none of the top six Republican congressional leaders offered a fresh rebuke of Trump after he issued his Thursday statement of solidarity with the rioters. A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) referred a reporter back to his earlier denunciations of the violence, while aides to the other leaders declined to comment or did not respond.