Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has always had a somewhat contentious relationship with former President Donald Trump. However, his latest move stunned Republicans.
After joining the bulk of his caucus in voting to acquit Trump on charges of inciting the January 6 Capitol Hill riot, McConnell then stood up and argued that the former president might very well be guilty.
Guilty and responsible
“There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” the Kentucky Republican declared. “No question about it. The people who stormed this building believed that they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.”
However, McConnell also told other members of the Senate that “impeachment was never meant to be the final forum for American justice.”
“Impeachment, conviction, and removal are a specific intragovernmental safety valve,” he continued. “It is not the criminal justice system where individual accountability is the goal.”
“Indeed,” McConnell noted, “[United States Supreme Court] Justice Story specifically reminded that while former officials were not eligible for impeachment or conviction, they were, and this is extremely important, still liable to be tried and punished in the ordinary tribunals of justice.”
“Put another way, in the language of today, 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.”
“We have a criminal justice system in this country; we have civil litigation,” the veteran senator stressed. “And former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one.” Watch:
Sen. Mitch McConnell: “There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.” pic.twitter.com/MFsRBgGF9x
— The Hill (@thehill) February 13, 2021
“Have his head examined”
Conservative activist and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza reacted to those comments with incredulity via Twitter, shortly after McConnell concluded his remarks.
“In a bizarre turn, Mitch McConnell accused Trump of causing insurrection just minutes after voting to acquit Trump of the charge of causing insurrection,” D’Souza noted. “Either McConnell is playing a big joke on Democrats, or he needs to quit politics and have his head examined.”
“It seems like McConnell, by sending two messages, is trying to do what McConnell has always been good at doing: playing off both ends against the middle,” conservative website RedState’s editor wrote.