Despite commendable efforts by U.S. House managers during the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, some U.S. senators found sufficient cover in the issue of jurisdiction and voted on Feb. 13 against convicting him.
The prosecution team, led by U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), did a thorough job presenting the case against Trump and exposing more of his dirty laundry. Trump was the prosecution’s best witness: his tweets, rally speeches and comments leading up to the election painted a picture of a man with a plan: discredit the election in case of a loss. However, the footage of the insurrection, complemented by the timeline of Trump’s statements as events unfolded on Jan. 6, was indisputable: Trump incited insurrection, and a violent mob attacked the Capitol.
Now, Americans—and the world—more fully understand his grave actions.
In the end, the vote to convict was 10 shy of the necessary threshold. Although seven Republican senators sided with the prosecution, most never got past technical issues.
“In this case, that question is moot,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, “because former President Trump is constitutionally not eligible for conviction.”
Although he led Republican senators who voted against conviction, McConnell has gained our respect. His scathing appraisal of Trump after the acquittal was breathtaking.
“There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day,” McConnell said. “The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.”
McConnell was diplomatic in expressing his obvious pent-up anger. He said Trump could still face criminal prosecution or civil litigation. And, McConnell did it in front of the whole world.
“The leader of the free world cannot spend weeks thundering that shadowy forces are stealing our country,” the Republican leader said. “This was an intensifying crescendo of conspiracy theories, orchestrated by an outgoing president who seemed determined to either overturn the voters’ decision or else torch our institutions on the way out.”
McConnell’s rebuke made clear where the Senate really stands.
Although escaping the throes of that chamber was less dangerous for Trump than it was for senators on Jan. 6, it seems Republican leaders have decided that more important verdicts about the disgraced leader will come down the road.
We can live with that.