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.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions is telling associates he had no idea his Justice Department seized phone records of two top Democratic congressional critics of then-President Donald Trump. In the hours since The New York Times broke the news on Thursday that prosecutors subpoenaed Apple metadata from Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA), former Attorney General Sessions has privately told people that he wasn’t aware of, nor was he briefed on, the reported data seizures while he led the Trump DOJ. This week’s revelations were a surprise to him, according to a source familiar with the matter, and another person close to Sessions.
The US justice department’s internal watchdog launched an investigation on Friday after revelations that former president Donald Trump’s administration secretly seized phone data from at least two House Democrats as part of an aggressive leaks inquiry related to the Russia investigation into Trump’s conduct.
Donald Trump called Joe Biden a “mental retard” during the 2020 election, a new book says, but was reluctant to attack him too strongly for fear the Democrats would replace him with Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama. Biden went on to beat Trump by more than 7m in the popular vote and by 306-232 in the electoral college, a result Trump deemed a landslide when it was in his favor against Clinton in 2016.
The deadly insurrection at the US Capitol was “planned in plain sight” but intelligence failures left police officers exposed to a violent mob of Trump supporters, a Senate investigation has found. The Capitol police intelligence division had been gathering online data since December about plots to storm the building on 6 January, including messages such as: “Bring guns. It’s now or never.” But a combination of bad communications, poor planning, faulty equipment and lack of leadership meant the warnings went unheeded, allowing the insurrectionists to overrun the Capitol and disrupt certification of Joe Biden’s election victory. Five people died.