Michael Whatley, the chair of the North Carolina Republican Party, on Tuesday shamelessly refused to blame former President Trump for inciting the mob behind the deadly Capitol insurrection last month, following the Senate’s acquittal of the former president for the second time.
Appearing on CNN Tuesday morning, Whatley was asked about his thoughts on a condemning Trump for inciting his supporters ahead of the Capitol attack, which said Trump’s “words and actions were reckless and he shares responsibility for the disgrace that occurred on January 6.”
Whatley insisted that Trump shouldn’t be blamed for the “horrific and unjustified” actions of the mob that breached the Capitol and led to the deaths of five people.
“There is no rationale that could excuse the actions of those people that went into the Capitol that caused the violence, and the deaths and injuries that we’ve seen from that are truly horrific,” Whatley said. “But I think the fault lies with those people who attacked the Capitol.”
After CNN anchor John Berman pointed out that the statement came from fellow North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis, Whatley turned his focus to expressing his dismay with Sen. Richard Burr’s (R-NC) surprise vote to convict Trump.
“Well, I think what we saw coming out of the vote on Saturday, across the state of North Carolina, I talked to over hundreds of volunteers of party leaders, of activists from every part of the state,” Whatley said. “And they are very disappointed with the vote that we saw from Sen. Burr, particularly after he had said that the impeachment process in the Senate was unconstitutional.”
Pressed again on the responsibility Trump bears for the Capitol insurrection last month, Whatley once again refused to blame the former president for inciting his supporters ahead of the attack.
“I think the responsibility lies with those people who broke the law, who attacked the Capitol, who attacked those police officers and caused the violence and mayhem, which is completely reprehensible and unjustifiable,” Whatley said.
Whatley also argued that he does not think Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who voted to acquit Trump, was wrong to scold the former president on the Senate floor for being “practically and morally responsible for provoking” the Capitol insurrection.
“Look, I’m not going to say that Mitch McConnell is wrong,” Whatley said. “What I’m going to say is that, you know, the actions that we saw by that mob are completely unjustifiable, reprehensible and horrific.”
Asked about the North Carolina Republican Party’s central committee voting unanimously on Monday to censure Burr for his vote, which said in a statement that the trial was unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office, Whatley insisted that the censure against Burr simply stated the party’s “shock and disappointment” with the senator’s vote and its disagreement with it.
“I don’t think this is a statement against Richard Burr as a senator,” Whatley said. “I think this is a statement that we disagree with that particular vote.”
Watch Whatley’s remarks below:
Michael Whatley, chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, does not blame Trump for the Capitol riots.
“There is no rationale that could excuse the actions of those people that went into the Capitol that caused the violence…But I think the fault lies with those people” pic.twitter.com/a7QzgUtKBG
— New Day (@NewDay) February 16, 2021