Senior Republican leader Mitch McConnell held Trump responsible for the insurrection but refused to vote to indict him.
Donald Trump was acquitted of inciting an insurrection in the US Capitol, in the first-ever trial of a former president. The majority of the Republicans continued to back Donald Trump and voted to protect him. Despite overwhelming evidence, including a video of Trump asking supporters to march to the Capitol, he was acquitted of inciting violence. Seven Republicans stood with 50 Democrats to convict Trump of the sole charge of incitement of insurrection but fell short of the required 67 votes (2/3rd majority) required to impeach him, reported ABC News. Trump and many Republicans had continually pushed conspiracy theories that the election was rigged, which eventually culminated in the Capitol Hill riots.
The Republicans' position on the matter couldn't be better summed up than by Mitch McConnell holding Trump responsible for the insurrection but still refusing to vote to convict him of the same charge. The only positive from the Republicans' side was that six more senators voted to impeach Trump from his last impeachment trial. Senators Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania were the GOP members who voted against Trump. Democratic House impeachment managers presented overwhelming video evidence of Trump's role in the insurrection. Many Republicans were found looking away when such evidence was presented.
Impeachment manager Madeleine Dean: "It was puzzling to hear and see Mitch McConnell stand and say 'not guilty' and then minutes later stand again and say [Trump] was guilty of everything. History will remember that statement of speaking out of two sides of his mouth." pic.twitter.com/Tj3fs3QMVq— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 14, 2021
Trump celebrated his acquittal and promised there was more to come from him. "Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun," said Trump. "In the months ahead, I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people. There has never been anything like it! We have so much work ahead of us, and soon we will emerge with a vision for a bright, radiant, and limitless American future," he added. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the vote reflected poorly on Republicans. “Just look at what Republicans have been forced to defend. Look at what Republicans have chosen to forgive,” said Schumer.
Sen. Mitch McConnell: "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." pic.twitter.com/rPLCV13uVe— The Hill (@thehill) February 14, 2021
McConnell said the former President was "practically and morally responsible” for the 6 January insurrection. "There's no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day," said McConnell on the Senate floor, reported Newsweek. "The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president. 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 planet Earth." Despite Trump's attorneys drawing false equivalence with the left during the trial, McConnell said there was no question who was behind the insurrection. "These criminals were carrying his banners. Hanging his flags and screaming their loyalty to him. It was obvious that only President Trump could end this... Former aides publicly begged him to do so. Loyal allies frantically called the administration. The president did not act swiftly. He did not do his job... Instead according to public reports he watched television happily as the chaos unfolded, kept pressing his scheme to overturn the election," said McConnell in damning fashion. McConnell's actions didn't match fiery words as he voted against convicting Trump of the charge. "President Trump is still liable for everything he did while in office. He didn't get away with anything yet. We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation," concluded McConnell.
Stacey Plaskett, one of the House impeachment managers, defended the decision to not call witnesses. "We had no need to call any witnesses at the end of the trial because, as all Americans believed at that moment, the evidence was overwhelming. I know that people have a lot of angst and they can't believe that the Senate did what they did. But what we needed were senators, more senators with spines, not more witnesses," said Plaskett, reported NPR. "This President is a disgrace to our country."