Mitch McConnell slams Trump soon after voting to acquit him
Washington, Feb 14 (PTI) Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has directly blamed Donald Trump for instigating last month's deadly riot at the US Capitol, minutes after voting to acquit the former president in his impeachment trial.
The US Senate acquitted Trump in his second impeachment trial on Saturday.
The 100-member Senate voted 57-43, 10 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for conviction.
After the vote, the senior Republican leader said Trump had been "responsible" for the assault on the Capitol.
“Former President Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty. The House accused the former President of, quote, ‘incitement.’ That is a specific term from the criminal law,” said Senate Minority Leader McConnell.
"There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day,” McConnell said.
McConnell as the Senate majority leader last month rejected calls by the Democrats for a speedy trial during Trump's final days in office.
He said that Trump was constitutionally ineligible for conviction since the punishment is removal, and he was already out of office.
“The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their President," he said.
"And their having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole which the defeated President kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth,” McConnell said.
“The issue is not only the President’s intemperate language on January 6th. It is not just his endorsement of remarks in which an associate urged ‘trial by combat. It was also the entire manufactured atmosphere of looming catastrophe; the increasingly wild myths about a reverse landslide election that was being stolen in some secret coup by our now-President,” said the Republican leader.
McConnell said that he defended the President’s right to bring any complaints to the legal system.
"The legal system spoke. The Electoral College spoke. As I stood up and said clearly at the time, the election was settled. But that reality just opened a new chapter of even wilder and more unfounded claims,” he said.
He defended his decision to vote against Trump’s impeachment.
“This body is not invited to act as the nation’s overarching moral tribunal," McConnell said.
He suggested Trump could be subject to criminal prosecution in the future.
"We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former Presidents are not immune from being held accountable by either one," he said.
House majority leader Nancy Pelosi criticised McConnell’s remarks and said the issue of timing “was not the reason that he voted the way he did; it was the excuse that he used.”