Video of Mitch McConnell Calling Jan. 6 'Violent Insurrection' Viewed Over 2 Million Times

A clip of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell describing the January 6 attack as a "violent insurrection" and criticizing the Republican National Committee for censuring Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger has gone viral.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, McConnell dismissed the RNC's description of January 6 as "legitimate political discourse," which appeared in the resolution to censure the only two Republican lawmakers on the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol attack.

The Kentucky senator also suggested it was "not the job" of the RNC to decide which lawmakers should be supported in the GOP.

"Let me give you my view of what happened on January 6. We saw what happened—it was a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election, from one administration to the next," McConnell said.

"With regard to the suggestion that the RNC should be in the business of picking and choosing Republicans who ought to be supported. Traditionally, the view of the national party committees is that we support all members of our party regardless of their positions on some issues."

McConnell said he still had confidence in RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, but "the 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."

A clip of McConnell's comments was posted on Twitter by Reuters reporter Jan Wolfe, and has been watched about 1.9 million times. Another video of the remarks has gained more than 600,000 views on MSNBC's YouTube page.

McConnell's comments are in contrast to the views expressed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on the same day.

Asked by CNN's Manu Raju about the phrase "legitimate political discourse," McCarthy defended its use while claiming it referred to Republican officials who had been subpoenaed by the January 6 committee even though they were in Florida on the day of the Capitol attack.

"Everybody knows, anybody who broke in and caused damage, that was not called for," said McCarthy. "Those people, I've said from the very beginning, should be in jail.

"What they were talking about is the six RNC members who [the January 6 committee] has subpoenaed who weren't even here, who were in Florida that day."

McCarthy, who is refusing to co-operate with the January 6 committee, declined to comment when asked if he supported the censure resolution. It is not known which six RNC officials he was referring to.

When asked later by CNN's Annie Grayer about the "legitimate political discourse" description, McCarthy said: "Yeah, everybody knows there was. Anyone who broke inside was not."

This disparity in views between the two leading Republicans in Congress reflects a split seen across the GOP following the censure of Cheney and Kinzinger.

A number of GOP lawmakers, including Senators Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski and Bill Cassidy as well as Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, have voiced their disapproval of the censure and the language used in the resolution.

Around 140 Republican leaders and former officials, including Donald Trump's White House communications director Alyssa Farah, have signed a letter accusing the RNC of condoning "conspiracies, lies, and violent insurrection."

Rep. Cheney, a frequent Trump critic, said she had received a "tremendous amount of support" in the wake of being censured by the RNC.

"I think every American who watched the video of that attack and who watched that attack unfold knows that it was really shameful to suggest that that what happened that day might be legitimate political discourse," Cheney said.

In a statement to Newsweek defending the vote against Cheney and Kinzinger, the RNC said it had "repeatedly condemned all acts of political violence and lawlessness," including what had occurred on January 6, but the House investigation had gone "well beyond the scope of the events" of that day.

"Republicans in both chambers of Congress and across the country remain united in our efforts to hold Democrats and Biden accountable for their failures [and] to take back the House and Senate come November," the spokesperson added.

Mitch McConnell insurrection
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill on February 8. McConnell said it was "not the job" of the RNC to choose which GOP lawmakers to support. Drew Angerer/Getty Images