Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) ripped into former President Donald Trump after voting to acquit him, along with 42 other Republicans, of incitement of insurrection and argued that Trump was still morally and practically culpable for what happened on January 6.
“American citizens attacked their own government; they used terrorism to try and stop a specific piece of domestic business they did not like. Fellow Americans beat and bloodied our own police. They stormed the Senate floor. They tried to hunt down the Speaker of the House; they built a gallows and chanted about murdering the vice president. They 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 told the Senate.
“Former President Trump’s actions [preceding] the riot were a disgraceful — disgraceful — dereliction of duty,” the Republican minority leader continued.
The Kentucky senator emphasized that “there is no question” Trump remains “practically and morally responsible” for provoking the Capitol riot, and that the rioters believed they were “acting on the wishes and instructions” of the president. “The leader of the free world cannot spend weeks thundering that shadowy forces are stealing our country and then feign surprise when people believe him and do reckless things,” added McConnell.
McConnell also said Trump seemed determined to overturn the presidential election or else “torch our institutions” on the way out of office, and declined to act swiftly once the Capitol was attacked, even “after it was clear to any reasonable observer” Vice President Mike Pence was in danger and that the president’s supporters were responsible for the breach.
He also accused Trump of using his supporters as a “human shield” to deflect criticism of his actions: “Seventy-four million Americans did not invade the Capitol; hundreds of rioters did. Seventy-four million Americans did not engineer the campaign of disinformation and rage that provoked it. One person did. Just one,” said McConnell.
Toward the end of his twenty-minute speech, McConnell said that the impeachment process was “never meant to be the final forum for American justice” and said the responsibility to deal with the actions of an ex-president fell on the criminal justice system or civil litigation system.
“The Senate’s decision, today, does not condone anything that happened on or before that terrible day. It simply shows that Senators did what the former president failed to do: We put our Constitutional duty first,” concluded McConnell.
Every Democrat and seven Republicans voted to convict Trump, for a final vote of 57-43, which still left them ten votes short of a conviction. The seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump were Senators Richard Burr of North Carolina, Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, and Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
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