WASHINGTON – In his speech from the Senate floor, Sen. Mitch McConnell delivered a scalding denunciation of Donald Trump, calling him “morally responsible” for the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
But earlier Saturday in his vote on Trump's impeachment, McConnell said “not guilty” because he said a former president could not face trial in the Senate.
Washington's most powerful Republican and the Senate's minority leader used his strongest language to date to excoriate Trump minutes after the Senate acquitted the former president, voting 57-43 to convict him but falling short of the two-thirds majority needed to find him guilty. Seven Republicans voted to convict.
Clearly angry, the Senate’s longest-serving GOP leader said Trump’s actions surrounding the attack on Congress were “a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty.” He even noted that though Trump is now out of office, he remains subject to the country’s criminal and civil laws.
“He didn’t get away with anything yet,” said McConnell, who turns 79 next Saturday and has led the Senate GOP since 2007.
It was a stunningly bitter castigation of Trump by McConnell, who could have used much of the same speech had he instead decided to convict Trump.
But by voting for acquittal, McConnell and his fellow Republicans left the party locked in its struggle to define itself after Trump's defeat in November. Fiercely loyal pro-Trump Republicans, and the base of the party they represent, are colliding with more traditional Republicans who believe the former president is damaging the party’s national appeal.
"It was powerful to hear the 57 guilties and then it was puzzling to hear and see Mitch McConnell stand and say not guilty and then minutes later stand again and say he was guilty of everything," one of the House prosecutors, Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., said Sunday on ABC's “This Week.” “History will remember that statement of speaking out of two sides of his mouth.”