Chuck Hagel, a former Republican U.S. Senator who served as Defense Secretary in the Obama administration from 2013 to 2015, offered stark criticism for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) this week on CNN after Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would have created an independent commission to investigate the January Capitol riot. Only six Republican Senators voted in favor of that bill, while the rest, including McConnell, launched a successful filibuster, stopping it from moving forward. Hagel characterized the Republicans who were in opposition as “afraid of the truth.”
McConnell has claimed that the proposed commission, no matter its independence, would have been too politicized, which is simply not a credible argument. The panel would not have even been able to issue subpoenas without agreement of Democratic and Republican members. Separately, McConnell has been reported to be concerned about the potential negative impact on the public messaging of the GOP from a potential Capitol riot commission. After all, Trump inspired the violence with his lies about the integrity of the election, and McConnell seems keen on getting rhetorically away from Trump.
Directly responding to a claim from McConnell that authorities will be able to uncover everything that they’ll need to know without ever launching a commission, Hagel pointedly asked, as mentioned, why McConnell and Republicans seem “so afraid of the truth,” commenting as follows:
‘I don’t think we know everything we need to know. In fact, I don’t think we know near enough or even I think beyond the surface… We had active duty military involved [in the riot], National Guard involved, we had active duty policemen involved in this. People lost their lives, Capitol Hill policemen lost their lives, unprecedented in history — we need to understand the truth. I don’t know why Mitch and the Republicans are so afraid of the truth. That’s all we’re looking for. We’re not looking to blame people, we just need to understand, America does. This is historic. Never happened before. Our Capitol was attacked, occupied, people died, and how deep is this? How deep in our society is this? How big a problem is this?’
Watch Hagel’s remarks below: