Minutes after he voted “not guilty” in the impeachment process of Donald Trump, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Said the former president is clearly to blame for the deadly uprising at the Capitol.
“There is no doubt” that Trump is “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” McConnell said just after the Senate acquitted Trump of instigating the attack. “No doubt about it.”
But “the question is moot,” McConnell said, because as a former president, Trump “is not constitutionally eligible for conviction.”
“After a lot of thought, I think the best constitutional reading shows that Article 2, paragraph 4, exhausts the range of persons who can be legitimately impeached, tried or convicted,” McConnell said.
“It’s the president, it’s the vice president, and civil officers. We have no power to condemn a former office holder who is now a private person,” he said.
While 57 of 100 senators voted Trump guilty, the chamber fell short of the two-thirds threshold required for conviction. Seven Republican senators, along with all Democrats and independents, voted to condemn Trump.
The House indicted Trump on Jan. 13, a week before his only term in office, on the basis of an article about “inciting insurgency.” Democrats had pressured McConnell, who was the majority leader at the time, to quickly file a lawsuit before Trump left the White House. But the trial itself didn’t begin until nearly three weeks after President Joe Biden was sworn in.
On Tuesday, 44 Republican senators, including McConnell, voted that the Senate did not even have the jurisdiction under the constitution to try a former president.
But in his speech on the ground after the vote, McConnell endorsed the view that “President Trump is still accountable for everything he did while in office.”
“He couldn’t get away with anything yet,” McConnell said, pointing out that “we have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil suits. And former presidents are not immune to it. [held] responsible by either. “
McConnell, who has previously stated that Trump provoked the crowd of his supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, also opposed some of the arguments put forward by Trump’s defense team at the trial.
“The issue is not only the intemperate language of the president on Jan. 6,” McConnell said, but also “the whole fabricated atmosphere of impending catastrophe,” including “the increasingly wild myths of a landslide election that somehow became known. stolen.”
Trump’s lawyers had argued at length that the former president’s comments at a pre-riot rally were mundane political speeches protected by the First Amendment. But McConnell argued that other examples of inflammatory political rhetoric are “different from what we saw” from Trump.
Before McConnell took the floor, majority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Spoke to the Senate against the Republicans voting for acquittal.
“There was only one correct statement in this trial: guilty,” said Schumer.
“This was about choosing a country over Donald Trump. And 43 Republican members chose Trump,” said Schumer.