According to Senator Mitt Romney, McConnell urged Republicans to "choose your conscience". The Utah Republican said McConnell "was in no way trying to pressure people to go one direction or another". That's not enough for Johnson and the more prudent Republicans who are not showing their hands right now. They want him to fight the impending trial and protect their leader. So the old days of the Republican Civil War between Trump and McConnell are back. Which one is fun.
The no fun part is that these Republicans are still downplaying the January 6 insurrectionary attack as the lives of their peers – and former Vice President Mike Pence! – was very threatened. Republican Rep. John Katko, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee and one of the 10 Republicans in the House who voted for the indictment, has hinted how dangerous the situation was without revealing any classified information he received during intelligence briefings .
"I've had many classified briefings about it and it's deeply troubling," Katko said in an interview with the local press this week. "I got a deep feeling that it was a lot worse than people thought." Bad enough that he's behind efforts to create a 9/11 type commission with subpoena powers to investigate. "There are a lot of unanswered questions here, from potential security vulnerabilities to who was involved and when they were involved," Katko said. "We need a full tribe to look back on it exactly, to see what happened, how it happened, how events play out, who contributed and how we make sure it never happens again." McConnell would have received the same information, as would Johnson, the outgoing chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
McConnell is smart enough to see the threat to the Republican Party – including the loss of funds from large donors who do not want to be associated with the mob that tried to overthrow Congress – caused by the insurrection and causing its consequences. There will be aftermath because there will be a commission looking into this. There will also be more arrests and trials that will expose what happened behind the scenes. Johnson has not yet caught up with this opportunity.