February 24, 2021

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GOP senators who voted to convict Trump face varying degrees of backlash at home

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voted to acquit former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, while still rebuking his “disgraceful” and “reckless” actions.

The Republican leader spoke on the Senate floor on Saturday afternoon shortly after Trump was acquitted on a charge of inciting an insurrection at the Capitol building on Jan. 6. Despite McConnell voting not guilty, he again strongly criticized the former president’s conduct surrounding the riot.

“Former President Trump’s actions [that] preceded the riot were a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty,” McConnell said. “There’s no question — none — that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it.”

McConnell continued to slam Trump over his response to the riot and for engineering a “campaign of disinformation and rage that provoked it.” At the same time, McConnell defended his not guilty vote by arguing Trump is “constitutionally not eligible for conviction” as a former president.

“We have no power to convict and disqualify a former office holder who is now a private citizen,” McConnell argued.

Wrapping up his remarks, McConnell noted that despite the Senate’s acquittal, Trump is “still liable” for his actions in office as a private citizen.

“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. Yet. We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one.”

Seven Republican senators voted to convict Trump, making this the most bipartisan impeachment vote in American history. Prior to McConnell’s remarks, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) slammed those Republicans who voted to acquit Trump, saying they have signed “their names in the columns of history alongside his name forever.” Brendan Morrow

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