Mitch McConnell unloads on Trump: 'Morally responsible' for provoking mob
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Saturday unleashed blistering criticism of former President Trump, blaming him for sparking the attack on the Capitol while also explaining why he didn't vote for a conviction. McConnell also suggested that Trump could face criminal prosecution for his actions.
"There's no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it. The people that stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president," McConnell said.
"And 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 the earth," McConnell added.
McConnell's remarks came after the Senate fell short of the 67 votes needed to ultimately convict Trump. Though McConnell voted to acquit him, arguing it fell outside of the Senate's jurisdiction, his remarks are a stinging rebuke of Trump's actions and rhetoric.
McConnell said the mob breached the Capitol because they were fed "wild falsehoods" by Trump because he was "angry he had lost an election."
McConnell, like most Senate Republicans, refused to acknowledge for weeks that Biden had won the election. But he publicly congratulated Biden on the floor in mid-December after the Electoral College certified the victory.
McConnell marked the death as when Trump "opened up a new chapter of wilder and more unfounded claims."
"The leader of the free world cannot spend weeks thundering that shadowy forces are stealing our country and then feign surprise," the GOP leader said, adding that Trump "seemed determined to either overturn the voters decision or else torch our institutions on the way out."
Trump's legal team defended his actions on January 6, where he repeated false claims that the election was "stolen" and encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol just as Vice President Pence and lawmakers were counting the Electoral College vote.
Trump's team also argued that the former president did not realize that Pence was in danger.
McConnell rejected those claims, noting that attack played out on live television.
"We know that he was watching the same live television as the rest of us. A mob was assaulting the Capitol in his name. ...The president did not act swiftly. He did not do his job. He didn't take steps so federal law he could be faithfully executed and order restored," McConnell said.
But the GOP leader also said that impeaching Trump fall outside of the Senate's jurisdiction because he is no longer in office. McConnell voted twice previously to try to declare the trial unconstitutional, an argument that has been rejected by a swath of legal scholars.
Though the House impeached Trump while he was still in office, the Senate trial didn't start until after President Biden was sworn in. Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) tried to get McConnell to bring the Senate back into session early to start the trial before Trump left office, but the GOP leader shot down the request.
"The question is moot because former President Trump is constitutionally not eligible," McConnell said.
McConnell, however, hinted that Trump could still face legal repercussions.
"President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, as an ordinary citizen, unless the statue of limitations has run. ...Didn't get away with anything, yet," McConnell said.
It’s sleepy by Donald Trump’s standards, but the former president’s century-old estate in New York’s Westchester County could end up being one of his bigger legal nightmares. Seven Springs, a 213-acre swath of nature surrounding a Georgian-style mansion, is a subject of two state investigations: a criminal probe by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and a civil inquiry by New York Attorney General Letitia James. Both investigations focus on whether Trump manipulated the property’s value to reap greater tax benefits from an environmental conservation arrangement he made at the end of 2015, while running for president.
Senator Lindsey Graham has defended his refusal to abandon Donald Trump in the aftermath of the deadly attack on the Capitol, saying that though the former president has “a dark side … what I’m trying to do is just harness the magic”. He also said Trump’s continued grip on the Republican party could make it “bigger, he can make it stronger, he can make it more diverse. And he also could destroy it.”
Donald Trump could arrive in New York City for his first visit since leaving the White House as soon as Sunday night, according to multiple reports. The former president was born in Queens and rose to fame in Manhattan but changed his primary residence to Florida in 2019 and has been at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach since leaving Washington on 20 January.
The Senate approved a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan on Saturday, as Democrats muscled through a marathon debate — and overcame dissent from moderates within their own ranks — to move one step closer to delivering President Biden his first legislative victory. Democrats voted to adopt the bill without any Republican support after a roughly 24-hour, around-the-clock session, though it will now fall to the House to consider the sweeping package once again before it can become law and any of the aid can be dispersed.