After Trump’s impeachment acquittal by the Senate, Mitch McConnell made clear that Trump was “practically and morally responsible for what happened on Jan. 6th.” He made it clear that “impeachment was never meant to be the final forum for American justice.” He explained impeachment is the Constitution’s provision for holding a president accountable for a high crime or misdemeanor and removing him or her from office. He went further by clarifying his opinion that Trump was derelict in his duty as president and can still be prosecuted for his behavior before and leading up to the January 6th attack on the Capitol where 5 people were killed, over 100 police officers were injured, and members of Congress narrowly escaped being attacked by Trump’s insurrectionists. In his statement, McConnell was trying to have it both ways politically by implying that Trump is a criminal, but the Senate would leave the securing of justice to the Judiciary, not the Legislative branch of government.
To illustrate the hypocrisy of today’s ruling, imagine this scenario and how Republicans would react;
Imagine it’s days before the end of Biden’s presidency and he and Vice- President Kamala give a speech on the steps of the Capitol, in front of a crowd dressed in militia garb, holding anti- Trump flags, screaming ” stop the acquittal”. Imagine Biden yelling, “you have to march to the Capitol and stop the vote, stop the Senators from letting Trump get away with his treasonist attack on democracy, fight hard to not let those traitorous senators vote to acquit.” It’s hard to imagine Republicans not calling to immediately impeach and remove Biden from office. So McConnell’s vote to acquit Trump was a vote for power, not a vote for democracy. However, in the words of former Senator Claire Macaskill, McConnell gave a “lock him up” speech at the close of the trial.
Republicans are committed to fealty to Trump and their party at any cost in order to retain power. McConnell, a stain on the senate who history will remember as a corrupt, opportunist, stood before the Senate today and admitted Trump was guilty of what the article of impeachment accused him of, while also proclaiming the Senate stood up for the Constitution. A large group of bipartisan constitutional legal scholars, including the co-founder of the conservative Federalist Society all, agree that the ” Constitution permits the impeachment, commitment, and disqualification of former officers, including presidents.” McConnell, like Trump, lies unapologetically to Americans to deflect attention away from the wrongs they commit against the rule of law and their break from following the ethical norms of our democracy.
The House Managers proved their case beyond question. Trump told his followers before the election happened that it would be the most rigged election in the history of this country. He said, “the only way we can lose the election is if it is rigged.” After the election, he refused to concede to Joe Biden and the “stop the steal” movement declaring him the winner began. Rally after rally he declared he won the election, that it was stolen and it was their obligation to take their country back. After his loss, Trump’s followers stormed the Michigan State Capitol in protest of Michigan voting for Biden. At the time, Trump praised the loyalty of his followers, many of who were also was found to be planning to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Witmer. He was aware from social media postings that many of his supporters involved in the ” stop the steal” movement were members of white supremacist, conspiracy theorist groups, who wrote prone to violence.
The managers also made the case for Trump’s incitement charge while the insurrection was occurring by reporting his tweets of support were being read by the mob on a bullhorn. This fact invalidated Trump’s attorney’s claim that he was unaware of the violence that was happening at the Capitol. Additionally, it was confirmed by people present at the White House that Trump was watching the invasion of the Capitol along with the rest of the country. He was also putting out negative tweets about Mike Pence putting him in increased danger from the mob who was searching for him in the Capitol shouting ” hang Mike Pence.” Towards the end of the trial, new evidence was entered into the record proving Trump was siding with the mobs’ violent takeover of the Capitol. A statement by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler was entered into evidence which confirmed that during the Capitol attack, a call for help to Trump from Rep. Kevin McCarthy was met with the response, ” well Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”
The 43 Senators who voted to acquit Trump have secured his hold on the party and branded them as the party of corruption, immorality, anti- rule of law, and in favor of an autocratic U.S. government over a democratic one. Republican Senators and House members who bravely supported Trump’s impeachment and removal will hopefully continue to fight to restore the integrity of their party’s ideals. By opposing anything remotely aligned with Trump’s autocratic ideology, there is a chance their party can recover from his cancerous assault on the traditional GOP and U.S. democracy.