After voting to acquit former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial for inciting the deadly attack on Capitol Hill, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said if Trump was still in office, “I would have carefully considered whether the House managers proved their specific charge.”
“But after intense reflection, I believe the best constitutional reading shows that Article II Section 4 exhausts the set of persons who can legitimately be impeached, tried or convicted. It’s the president, it’s the vice president and civil officers. We have no power to convict and disqualify a former office holder who is now a private citizen,” McConnell said. “Donald Trump’s no longer the president. Likewise, the provision states that officers subject to impeachment and conviction shall be removed from office if convicted,” he said, emphasizing “from office.”
“President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office as an ordinary citizen unless the statute of limitations is run, still liable for everything he did while in office. 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,” McConnell said.
In his Speech, the Kentucky Republican claimed that the Senate’s decision to acquit Trump does not condone the violence on Jan. 6. “It simply shows that senators did what the former President failed to do. We put our constitutional duty first,” he said.
McConnell cannot be serious. Every word he said lacks sincerity. His entire speech appears to be part of yet another calculated move to protect himself and his party.
He claims he cannot convict Trump because he is no longer in office, but he was the one who refused to start the impeachment trial before President Joe Biden was inaugurated, saying that there wasn’t enough time.
This is the same man who called the Senate back into session one week before the election to confirm a Supreme Court Justice to deny Democrats the opportunity to appoint a progressive judge to the high court.
While correctly asserting that Trump is liable for everything he did during his chaotic presidency, McConnell is washing his hands and leaving the responsibility to hold Trump accountable to the Justice Department, which will be headed by an Attorney General appointed by President Joe Biden. The move shields McConnell and his Republican colleagues from any political liability over their lack of courage to convict Trump.
And I predict that the minute Trump is hit with a criminal charge, McConnell will be the first one to complain about the Biden DOJ going after the former president and using it as a fundraising tool for the 2022 midterm elections.