Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) didn’t respond to warnings from Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) about the Jan. 6 insurrection in the days before the riot, according to a new biography on the Utah Republican.
In an excerpt of the biography by McKay Coppins published in The Atlantic on Wednesday, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) reportedly texted Romney, requesting a call about something “important” on Jan. 2, 2021.
King warned him of threats of violence — including some specifically against Romney — during the Jan. 6 certification of the Electoral College votes, citing a conversation with a high-ranking Pentagon official.
“Law enforcement has been tracking online chatter among right-wing extremists who appear to be planning something bad on the day of Donald Trump’s upcoming rally in Washington, D.C. The president has been telling them the election was stolen; now they’re coming to steal it back,” the excerpt reads, paraphrasing King’s conversation with Romney.
“There’s talk of gun smuggling, of bombs and arson, of targeting the traitors in Congress who are responsible for this travesty,” it continues. “Romney’s name has been popping up in some frightening corners of the internet, which is why King needed to talk to him. He isn’t sure Romney will be safe.”
Romney passed the message on to McConnell, typing him a text message.
“In case you have not heard this, I just got a call from Angus King, who said that he had spoken with a senior official at the Pentagon who reports that they are seeing very disturbing social media traffic regarding the protests planned on the 6th,” Romney wrote, according to the book.
“There are calls to burn down your home, Mitch; to smuggle guns into DC, and to storm the Capitol. I hope that sufficient security plans are in place, but I am concerned that the instigator—the President—is the one who commands the reinforcements the DC and Capitol police might require,” he said.
But Romney never received a response, per the book. The attack on the Capitol Building occurred just four days later.
In the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6 riots, McConnell blamed then-President Trump for the violence. In a speech nearly a year later, despite voting to acquit Trump on impeachment charges related to the riot, McConnell again placed the responsibility on the former president.
“There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day,” McConnell said. “A mob was assaulting the Capitol in his name. These criminals were carrying his banners, hanging his flags, and screaming their loyalty to him.”
However, McConnell has avoided saying whether Trump should be held criminally liable for the riots.
Romney was one of seven Republican senators who did vote to convict Trump on impeachment charges related to the Jan. 6 riot.
Romney announced on Wednesday that he will not run for re-election in 2024.
The announcement marks the end of a 20-year political career that saw him serve as Massachusetts’ governor and run as the GOP nominee for president in 2012 before becoming one of Utah’s senators.
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