WASHINGTON (AP) – Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has explicitly blamed President Donald Trump for the deadly riot at the Capitol, saying the mob was “fed lies” and that Trump and others “provoked” those intent on overturning Democrat Joe Biden’s election.

Ahead of Trump’s historic second impeachment trial, McConnell’s remarks are his most severe and public rebuke of the outgoing president. The GOP leader is setting a tone as Republicans weigh whether to convict Trump on the impeachment charge that will soon be sent over from the House: “incitement of insurrection.”

“The mob was fed lies,” McConnell said. “They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like.”

The Republican leader vows a “safe and successful” inauguration of Biden today at the Capitol, where final preparations are under way amid heavy security.

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