As many predicted, for the second time Donald Trump escaped a conviction in an impeachment trial by the U.S. Senate.
As Fox News reported, that didn’t stop Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (D-KY) from tearing into the former president after the final votes were tallied. McConnell said he believes Trump’s behavior after the 2020 election was “unconscionable,” but still voted in favor of acquitting Trump of the charge brought against him.
Trump’s acquittal came after only 57 senators voted in favor of a conviction, falling 10 votes short of the 67 — or two-thirds — required to convict him of “incitement of an insurrection.”
“Practically and morally responsible”
McConnell’s post-impeachment vote remarks on the Senate floor bolstered the idea that he’s very much in favor of separating the former president from the current Republican party, though he might find that to be a difficult task considering Trump’s loyal base of tens of millions of supporters.
The Kentucky senator pulled zero punches as he laid into the 45th president, making the case that Trump played a crucial role in the tragic events that took place on January 6 at the U.S. Capitol.
“There’s no question… that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” McConnell said. “The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.”
He then went into great detail about why he believed that the president essentially gave marching orders to his supporters in Washington D.C. on that day, citing the fact that a majority of them were wearing Trump gear and carrying pro-Trump flags and banners.
“These criminals were carrying his banners. Hanging his flags and screaming their loyalty to him. It was obvious that only President Trump could end this… Former aides publicly begged him to do so,” said McConnell.
But wait, the Constitution
The seven-term senator might be at odds with Trump over the controversy, but to his great credit, he relied heavily on the U.S. Constitution to guide his thought process on whether or not to vote in favor of convicting the former president.
McConnell cited Article II, Section 4 of the founding document, which he — and many other Republicans — believe clearly states who is eligible to be convicted in a Senate impeachment trial and who isn’t.
“It’s the president, the vice president and civil officers. We have no power to convict and disqualify a former officeholder who is now a private citizen,” McConnell said.
As CNBC recently reported, some Republican senators, like Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), believe that Trump’s second impeachment sets a dangerous precedent in the future, suggesting that if Republicans retake the House in 2022, there’s nothing stopping them from impeaching former presidents like Barack Obama.