Marco Rubio Splits With Mitch McConnell, Says 1/6 'Riot' Not Insurrection

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio characterized the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol as a "riot," contradicting what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had said on Tuesday about the event.

In an interview with NewsNation, Rubio discussed the Capitol attack from over a year ago and why he believed the language surrounding it is flawed. Rubio's comments come a day after McConnell referred to the attack by a mob of pro-Trump supporters as an insurrection.

​​"There was no way they were going to overthrow the government," said Rubio. "I​​t was a riot. It was a dangerous riot. It was a violent one. It should have never happened and it should never happen again. But I also do not think people should be misled to think this somehow was on the verge of overthrowing the government."

Rubio also explained another reason why the events of January 6 should not be considered an insurrection. That was because Congress' certification of Joe Biden's win in the 2020 presidential election eventually resumed after protesters broke into the Capitol building.

"They were able to delay [it] by a few hours, the vote count but there was absolutely no way did we ever come close in any way shape or form to those people leading to the overthrow of the government of the United States of America," said Rubio.

McConnell, a GOP senator who represents Kentucky, has staunchly criticized former President Donald Trump and his allies for their alleged roles in the January 6 attack. He broke away from standard Republican National Convention (RNC) language when he spoke out Tuesday against the censures placed onto Representative Liz Cheney and Representative Adam Kinzinger. Both Republican congresspersons serve on the House select committee investigating last year's attack.

"It was a violent insurrection with the purpose of trying to prevent a peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election," said McConnell. "That's what it was. This issue is whether or not the RNC should be sort of singling out members of our party who may have different views from the majority. That's not the job of the RNC."

Rubio has not publicly commented on the Cheney and Kinzinger censures. Instead, the Florida senator described the House select committee as "nothing but a partisan tool designed to go out and smear and attack and get their hands on as many people as they can" during his appearance on CBS News' Face the Nation on Sunday.

Over 700 people have been arrested in connection to the January 6, 2021, attack.

Newsweek has reached out to representatives for Rubio and McConnell for comment.

Update 02/09/2022 12:30 PM EST: This story was updated to add additional comments by Rubio, as well as the February 8 comments by McConnell and background information.

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Republican Senator from Florida Marco Rubio speaks during a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Select Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on August 4, 2021. Rubio referred to the events of January 6 as a "riot" one day after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell referred to it as an insurrection. NICHOLAS KAMM/Scott Olson/AFP via Getty Images