“No — not at all,” the No. 2 Republican said when asked if he can defend what Trump did. “The way he handled the post-election, both in terms of his public statements and things that he tried to do to change the outcome, no.”
“Well, that’s a good question,” said Thune, who faces reelection in South Dakota next year. “One way, obviously, would be in a court of law.”
When asked about Trump’s actions in relation to the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a member of GOP leadership, said: “I’m not going to defend them.”
“I think he’s been held accountable in the court of public opinion already,” Cornyn said when asked if the Senate should take any actions, arguing it would set a “dangerous precedent” to convict a former President.
The rhetoric showcases the split between House and Senate Republicans as the party struggles to find its voice after the tumultuous Trump era. Many House Republicans remain staunch Trump defenders, saying he did nothing wrong and shouldn’t be blamed for the violence that occurred at the Capitol.
A majority of House Republicans backed the efforts to throw out President Joe Biden’s electoral victories in two key states, while just a handful did in the Senate. After House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of California walked back his criticism of Trump and made a jaunt to South Florida on Thursday to meet with the former President, he went out of his way to proclaim they were united in their fight to take back the House next year. Back in Washington, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, made clear he hasn’t spoken to Trump since December 15, and it’s unclear if he ever will again.
Just five Republicans voted to kill Paul’s procedural motion. Paul told CNN that he informed the Republican…