Mitch McConnell savages Trump – minutes after voting to acquit

Senate minority leader says Trump ‘practically and morally responsible’ for Capitol riot, but votes not guilty regardless

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said on Saturday that Donald Trump was “practically and morally responsible” for the insurrection at the US Capitol on 6 January – minutes after voting to acquit the former president in his impeachment trial for that very same act.

McConnell, like the senators who voted in favor of impeachment, was deeply critical of Trump’s conduct leading up to the attack. “They [the mob] did this because they’d been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth because he was angry he lost an election,” McConnell said.

But McConnell argued the Senate could not convict Trump because he had left office before the Senate trial began – a timeline McConnell orchestrated as Senate majority leader after refusing Democrats’ requests to call the Senate into an emergency session in January.

The House impeached Trump for a second time in his final days in office, but McConnell delayed starting the Senate trial until after Joe Biden was sworn in.

McConnell said the Senate was not meant to serve as a “moral tribunal” and said Trump could still be open to criminal prosecution.

“President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he’s in office,” McConnell said. “He didn’t get away with anything yet.”

House majority leader Nancy Pelosi criticized McConnell’s remarks in a press conference on Saturday and said the issue of timing “was not the reason that he voted the way he did; it was the excuse that he used”.

“For Mitch McConnell – who created the situation where it could not have been heard before the 20th, or even begun before the 20th in the Senate – to say all the things he said, oh my gosh, about Donald Trump and how horrible he was and is, and then say, ‘But that’s the time that the House chose to bring it over’ – Oh, no. We didn’t choose. You chose not to receive it,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi was also critical of the “cowardly” Republicans who voted against impeachment after the attack.

“I salute the Republican senators who voted their conscience and for our country,” Pelosi said. “Other Senate Republicans’ refusal to hold Trump accountable for igniting a violent insurrection to cling to power will go down as one of the darkest days and most dishonorable acts in our nation’s history.”

She repeated that members of the mob chanted “hang Mike Pence”, referring to the vice-president’s role in overseeing the electoral count.

“And they just dismissed that.” Pelosi said. “Why? Because maybe they can’t get another job. What is so important about any of one of us? What is so important about the political survival of any of one of us than our constitution that we take an oath to protect and defend?”


Amanda Holpuch in New York

The GuardianTramp

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