What did Mitch McConnell just say?

As I just posted, the U.S. Senate just acquitted Donald Trump by a vote of 57-43.

Watch Mitch McConnell:

A few things:

McConnell believes that Donald Trump is guilty of inciting the riot on the United States Capitol. He believes Trump committed what the U.S. Constitution calls a “high crime and misdemeanor.” He believes that Trump’s actions and words deserve impeachment and conviction. In other words, Mitch McConnell believes that Trump is responsible for the deaths that occurred on January 6, 20201 and is also responsible for the threat to the life of his own vice-president, Mike Pence. This speech could have been given by one of the Democratic House managers. McConnell believes the Democratic House managers proved their case.

Then why did McConnell vote to acquit?

McConnell voted to acquit Trump because he does not believe that the U.S. Constitution allows for a private citizen to be the defendant in an impeachment trial. (This is a disputed interpretation of the impeachment clause). But four days ago, the Senate voted that it was constitutional to hold the trial. McConnell is a leader of the Senate. His argument today suggests that United States Senators are not bound by the decisions of the United States Senate.

McConnell also noted that the criminal prosecution of Donald Trump is on the way.

Several pundits on Twitter have made good observations:

Several of the GOP Senators who voted to convict Trump have made statements.

Richard Burr of North Carolina took a very different approach to the one taken by McConnell. He believed that after the Senate voted to declare the trial constitutional he was then required to abide by the Senate ruling and consider the case on its merits. He writes:

When this process started, I believed that it was unconstitutional to impeach a president who was no longer in office. I still believe that to be the case. However, the Senate is an institution based on precedent, and given that the majority in the Senate voted to proceed with this trial, the question of constitutionality is now established precedent. As an impartial juror, my role is now to determine whether House managers have sufficiently made the case for the article of impeachment against President Trump.

“I have listened to the arguments presented by both sides and considered the facts. The facts are clear.

“The President promoted unfounded conspiracy theories to cast doubt on the integrity of a free and fair election because he did not like the results. As Congress met to certify the election results, the President directed his supporters to go to the Capitol to disrupt the lawful proceedings required by the Constitution. When the crowd became violent, the President used his office to first inflame the situation instead of immediately calling for an end to the assault.

“As I said on January 6th, the President bears responsibility for these tragic events. The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government and that the charge rises to the level of high Crimes and Misdemeanors. Therefore, I have voted to convict.

“I do not make this decision lightly, but I believe it is necessary. 

“By what he did and by what he did not do, President Trump violated his oath of office to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Ben Sasse of Nebraska wonders what Trump’s acquittal means for our constitutional democracy:

If Congress cannot forcefully respond to an intimidation attack on Article I instigated by the head of Article II, our constitutional balance will be permanently tilted. A weak and timid Congress will increasingly submit to an emboldened and empowered presidency. That’s unacceptable. This institution needs to respect itself enough to tell the executive that some lines cannot be crossed. 

As I wrote in my last post, I am embarrassed to be an American today.