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After not-guilty vote, McConnell says Trump 'morally responsible' for Capitol riot

WorldFeb 13, 2021 06:30PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. Impeachment trial of former U.S. President Trump concludes in Washington 2/2

By Makini Brice and David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called Donald Trump "practically and morally responsible" for his supporters' deadly attack on the Capitol, only moments after voting to acquit the Republican former president on an impeachment charge of inciting the melee.

The top Senate Republican explained the unexpected turnabout at the end of a five-day impeachment trial, by declaring it unconstitutional to convict Trump of misconduct now that the former president has left office and become a private citizen.

The Senate earlier in the week found that the trial was constitutional in a 56-44 vote.

"There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day," said McConnell, who along with the rest of the Congress and former Vice President Mike Pence fled the mob that descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6.

"The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president," McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor.

The remarks came soon after the 100-seat chamber acquitted Trump on a single charge of inciting insurrection in a 57-43 vote that failed to reach the 67-vote threshold necessary for conviction. Seven Senate Republicans joined Democrats to vote for conviction.

The House of Representatives had impeached Trump on Jan. 13, a week before he left office.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denounced the senators who made Trump's acquittal possible as a "cowardly group of Republicans" and blamed McConnell for not allowing the House to deliver the impeachment charge to the Senate while Trump was still in the White House.

"Senator Mitch McConnell just went to the floor essentially to say that we made our case on the facts," said Representative Jamie Raskin, who had led the nine House Democrats who prosecuted Trump before the Senate.

McConnell was not the only Republican to castigate Trump for his behavior after voting for acquittal.

"The question I must answer is not whether President Trump said and did things that were reckless and encouraged the mob. I believe that happened," Senator Rob Portman in a statement.

"My decision was based on my reading of the Constitution," the Ohio Republican added. "I believe the Framers understood that convicting a former president and disqualifying him or her from running again pulls people further apart."

Senator Chuck Grassley, the Senate's most senior Republican, described Trump's language in a fiery speech to supporters just before the Capitol assault as "extreme, aggressive and irresponsible."

But he said the Senate had no jurisdiction to hold a trial, agreed with Trump's legal team that the former president deserved more "due process" and said the prosecution had not made their case.

In comments that echoed the prosecution's case, McConnell said Trump had orchestrated "an intensifying crescendo of conspiracy theories" and described the former president as "determined to either overturn the voters' decision or else torch our institutions on the way out."

McConnell suggested that Trump could still face criminal prosecution for his acts.

"President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office as an ordinary citizen," McConnell said. "He didn't get away with anything. Yet."

After not-guilty vote, McConnell says Trump 'morally responsible' for Capitol riot
 

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Comments (8)
Steve Lora
Steve Lora Feb 14, 2021 2:30PM ET
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Trump is taunting the media and now they cant do anything about it. i see the Democrat party as old white ppl and 0 youth. The Republicans will now take the House of Representatives with ease next yr and there's nothing the media can do about it
Patron Silver
Patron Silver Feb 14, 2021 1:39PM ET
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spineless is the only appropriate word I can come up with
Alan Rice
Alan Rice Feb 14, 2021 1:23PM ET
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Mitch knows.
Rick Baier
Rick Baier Feb 13, 2021 6:58PM ET
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This was a farce from day 1. How can you impeach a ex president anyway.Makes me think he's still the president. IDK but I loved how Trump's lawyers for over 10 minutes played video clips of Democrats saying Fight Fight Fight in the past
skriller bee
skriller bee Feb 13, 2021 6:58PM ET
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you pretty much said any president can commit a crime and is unimpeachable as long as they do it on the january of their last term.
Ryan Turla
Ryan Turla Feb 13, 2021 6:58PM ET
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Its not the juty of the senate to say its unsconstitutional. Thats the job of the supreme court
Alan Rice
Alan Rice Feb 13, 2021 6:58PM ET
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Ryan Turla Yes and No.
Steve Lora
Steve Lora Feb 13, 2021 6:58PM ET
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Chief Justice Roberts is to oversee the impeachment process. He refused and that was the SCOTUS statement. It was unconstitutional and a guilty verdict may have gone there and overthrow.
Adrian White
Adrian White Feb 13, 2021 6:58PM ET
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Rick Baier, no "ex-president" was impeached. He was impeached by the House while still in office. It's only the Senate trial that occurred after he had left office. "Impeachment" is the charge, not the verdict. Please educate yourself before you go publicly crying about 'farces'.
Don Getty
Don Getty Feb 13, 2021 6:24PM ET
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Moscow Mitch, a man full of moral ambiguity - sold his soul for 3 supremes on the court! Not to mention he wouldn't stand up to trumpy for 4 years - just as guilty as trumpy!
Me comment
Me comment Feb 13, 2021 6:13PM ET
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The senate should have voted on the facts not their interpretation of the Constitution. Only the Supreme Court has the power to determine Constitionality. Very weak excuse by the republican senators ad the did not do their constitutional duty.
skriller bee
skriller bee Feb 13, 2021 6:13PM ET
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lots of trumpers here bud, all are s/t/u/pidly immoral
Forex Harbingers
Forex Harbingers Feb 13, 2021 6:13PM ET
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Any more immoral than you lefties that overlook the far more deadly and far more costly Antifa/BLM riots? And you talk about morality? Hahahaha, your ignorance is astounding. At least these "Trumpers" didn't go into your communities. But morally speaking, you're right though, right? smdh, the ignorance is astounding here
Casador Del Oso
Casador Del Oso Feb 13, 2021 5:30PM ET
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Sounds like something Joe would say.
Kokeb Ayalew
Kokeb Ayalew Feb 13, 2021 5:18PM ET
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McConnell doesn't want to convict him because he is a private citizen now, but he also refused a trial while he was still the president. 🤦‍♂️
 
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