MSNBC's Michael Steele explained why he thinks Republican senators are moving away from Donald Trump and the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell had blocked bipartisan efforts to investigate the U.S. Capitol riot, and former vice president Mike Pence has dismissed its importance, but both have criticized the former president this week and other GOP senators have denounced the violence in recent days -- and the former Republican National Committee chairman said they're all feeling the heat.
"They're not liking what they're hearing," Steele told "Morning Joe." "They're beginning to see and realize how impactful that day was. There was a lot more that was true about what was being said about Jan. 6 than untrue. The untrue part is what Trump and his minions were putting out there. What you saw in the leaders is a contrast in leadership."
Steele contrasted McConnell's public stance to House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who initially blamed Trump for the violence but has since tried to downplay the insurrection.
"McConnell is concerned about a Senate majority for Republicans," Steele said. "He is concerned about Republicans taking back the House, he is concerned about Republicans creating the beachhead to go into November. McCarthy is concerned about not offending Donald Trump and not getting sideways with Trump, and that is the tension inside the GOP that is going to get played out over and over again between now and November."
Steele said that GOP adherence to Trump's election lies are threatening McConnell's hopes of becoming majority leader again.
"It is not lost on anyone in town that McConnell is fit to be tied of the candidates running in Republican primaries, that are pushing the narrative away from inflation, Afghanistan, masks, etc., and focusing, as Donald Trump wants it focused, on grievance around the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 commission," Steele said. "Here's the rub for the Democrats. They need to bring it home, they need to make very clear to the American people what happened, put that evidence out there. Hopefully, the Justice Department will do the right thing in looking at that evidence critically and pursuing it accordingly."
"But right now," he added, "you're seeing all of these pressure points in this political space around what's happening on the Jan. 6 commission and what the polling is showing on the ground, that it is softening voters toward the democratic view, small 'd' democratic view about Jan. 6."
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