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GOP Sen. Mike Lee defended Trump's incitement of the deadly Capitol attack by saying 'everyone's entitled to a mulligan'

Business Insider logo Business Insider 2/9/2021 insider@insider.com (John Haltiwanger)
a man holding a golf club: Donald Trump golfing at Trump International Golf Links course in Aberdeenshire, Scotland Photo by Andy Buchanan / AFP © Photo by Andy Buchanan / AFP Donald Trump golfing at Trump International Golf Links course in Aberdeenshire, Scotland Photo by Andy Buchanan / AFP
  • Sen. Mike Lee said Trump deserves a "mulligan" over the Capitol siege. 
  • Lee said Trump's January 6 speech wasn't very different from statements made by Democrats.
  • The Utah Republican on Tuesday voted against bipartisan impeachment trial rules.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah in a Tuesday interview with Fox News suggested that former President Donald Trump should get a "mulligan" over his incitement of a fatal riot at the US Capitol on January 6. 

Lee said that that Trump's incendiary remarks on January 6, in which he urged his supporters to "fight like hell" and march on the Capitol, weren't especially different from comments Democratic lawmakers have made urging voters to publicly challenge GOP members of Congress. 

"Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone's entitled to a mulligan once in a while. And I would hope, I would expect that each of those individuals would take a mulligan on each of those statements because in each instance, they're making it deeply personal," Lee said. "They're ceasing to make it about policy. And instead they're talking about getting up in people's faces and making individuals feel perfectly uncomfortable. And that's not helpful."

"Mulligan" is a golf term, which is often used in a colloquial manner and refers to being given a second chance or extra stroke after making a poor shot. In short, it's a do-over. 

Mike Lee wearing a suit and tie: Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images © Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Democrats excoriated Lee for suggesting Trump deserves a "mulligan" over the Capitol attack, which led to five deaths - including that of a Capitol Police officer. 

Jaime Harrison, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, tweeted in part, "Senator this is not a damn golf game!"

The Utah Republican in his interview with Fox News also said that there is a "constitutional jurisdictional question" about holding an impeachment trial for a former president. However, there is a precedent for holding an impeachment trial for an ex-federal official.

In 1876, William Belknap was impeached in the House over corruption charges shortly after he resigned as secretary of war. The Senate subsequently voted 37 to 29 that he was eligible for an impeachment trial despite resigning, but Belknap was ultimately acquitted.

Lee on Tuesday was among 11 Senate Republicans who voted against impeachment trial rules agreed upon by leaders of both parties. The trial began on Tuesday afternoon. Lee told Fox he expects Trump to be acquitted. 

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