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McConnell says Trump 'practically, morally responsible' for provoking Capitol riots - but voted to acquit him

The five-day trial concluded last night as expected – with most Republicans declaring Trump not guilty.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell speaking following Trump's acquittal
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell speaking following Trump's acquittal
Image: US Senate TV/DPA/PA Images

TOP SENATE REPUBLICAN Mitch McConnell delivered a scathing rebuke of Donald Trump yesterday despite voting to acquit the former president on an impeachment charge, saying he was responsible for the 6 January mob assault on the US Capitol.

“There’s no question – none – that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” McConnell said in a speech following the vote that led to Trump’s acquittal.

“These criminals were carrying his banners. Hanging his flags. And screaming their loyalty to him.”

He called Trump’s actions leading up to the siege “a disgraceful dereliction of duty.”

McConnell went further and suggested Trump could face charges now that he is out of office.

“President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, as an ordinary citizen,” he said. “He didn’t get away with anything yet.”

The Republican from Kentucky, however, said he voted to acquit Trump on a charge of inciting insurrection because, he said, it is unconstitutional to convict a president in an impeachment trial after he has left office.

The five-day trial concluded last night as expected – with most Republicans declaring Trump not guilty. 

But while the 57-43 majority that voted to convict fell short of the two-thirds needed in the Senate, seven Republicans joined with Democrats to seek Trump’s conviction, making it the most bipartisan impeachment trial in US history.

President Joe Biden said that despite the acquittal the charges against Trump are “not in dispute” and called on Americans to defend democracy.

Trump, who has been secluded in his Florida club since leaving office on January 20, welcomed the verdict — denouncing the proceedings as “yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country.”

Despite the stain of a second impeachment, Trump hinted at a possible political future, saying that “our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun.”

“We have so much work ahead of us, and soon we will emerge with a vision for a bright, radiant, and limitless American future,” he said in a statement.

After the trial, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was openly targeted by rioters and evacuated from the Capitol on 6 January, laid into the “cowardly” Republican senators who voted to acquit.

“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 said in a statement.

A furious Pelosi later belittled the prospect that Trump might now be the subject of a censure vote in Congress.

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“These cowardly senators who couldn’t face up to what the president did and what was at stake for our country are now going to have a chance to give a little slap on the wrist?” she said to reporters, making that gesture.

“We censure people for using stationery for the wrong purpose. We don’t censure people for inciting insurrection that kills people in the Capitol,” said Pelosi.

© AFP 2021

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