If Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell believes his post impeachment acquittal vote rhetoric that Donald Trump was responsible for the January 6 mob attack on Congress, he may have made a significant miscalculation by failing to influence a conviction of the disgraced former president.
Some pundits speculated after the trial concluded February 13 with Trump's acquittal that McConnell's speech, in which he excoriated Trump for "provoking" the deadly attack, was simply designed to satisfy donors. After all, many big money contributors had said after the attack that they would no longer support lawmakers who objected to certifying the Electoral College vote that gave the presidency to Joe Biden. Those objections set the stage for the insurrectionists' attack.
McConnell's end game is to retake control of the Senate and help the GOP take over the House of Representatives, and to do that money -- major money -- will be needed. So, to pacify those donors, he pretended to take the high ground with his comments, but not until he demonstrated with his vote what a political lowlife he really is.
“President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.” said McConnell, calling Trump's action "disgraceful, disgraceful" and a "dereliction of duty." But that was after McConnell had signaled to the Republicans who call him "Leader" that he would vote to acquit, arguing that Trump could not be convicted because he no longer is president.
Of course, the reason why the trial occurred after Trump left the presidency January 20 is because he, McConnell, refused to call the Senate into session to hold the trial before then. So, the wily old Mitch set the stage for his reason for acquittal even before the trial even started.
However, if McConnell's speech is to be taken at face value, he's fed up with Trump, tired of having to do his bidding, is disgusted with his actions and behavior, and wants to be rid of him.
He even made a veiled threat, which some observers took to be an invitation to Attorney General Merrick Garland to bring charges against Trump.
"He didn't get away with anything -- yet," said McConnell, noting that both civil and criminal penalties are available to former presidents who are convicted of violating the law.
The Associated Press said this:
It was a stunningly bitter castigation of Trump by McConnell, who could have used much of the same speech had he instead decided to convict him. Had McConnell voted to find Trump guilty, he has enough respect among his colleagues that many more of them may well have done the same.
Nevertheless, McConnell and the Senate acquitted the former president on charges of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol, voting 57-43 to convict, but falling 10 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to find him guilty.
By the way, the seven GOP senators who joined the 48 Democrats and two Independents voting to convict were: Richard Burr (NC), Bill Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AL), Mitt Romney (UT), Ben Sasse (NB), and Pat Toomey (PA).
“The president bears responsibility for these tragic events,” said Burr. “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.”
However, even though a majority of the House of Representatives and the Senate voted to kick Trump to the curb, by failing to convict him and prohibiting him from seeking the presidency once again they may be allowing him to continue as the face of the GOP, and some, at least, may regret that vote.
Those who plan to seek the presidency in 2024, like Josh Hawley (MO) and Ted Cruz (TX) may have to contend with Donald John Trump. Then they'll regret the action they failed to take.
Following the vote, Trump wasted no time in declaring victory, blaming everything on the Democrats, and suggesting that he will be back.
"Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun. 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," Trump said.
Despite inciting that riot that resulted in seven people dead, including three police officers (two died later by suicide because of the attack), Trump claimed to be a champion of "the rule of law."
"I always have, and always will, be a champion for the unwavering rule of law, the heroes of law enforcement, and the right of Americans to peacefully and honorably debate the issues of the day without malice and without hate," he said. Those were the words of a man who stoked malice and hate throughout his presidency.
"This has been yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country. No president has ever gone through anything like it, and it continues because our opponents cannot forget the almost 75 million people, the highest number ever for a sitting president, who voted for us just a few short months ago."
That, of course, is a bit of a stretch. Trump received 74.2 million votes and Joe Biden still beat him by 7,052,770 votes with record number of more than 81 million.
Trump couldn't stand it. He couldn't believe it. It had to be fraud. That's what he said all along, and that's what his base believed. And so, he whipped them up, sent them to the Capitol to attack, trying to stop the Electoral College vote certification by a joint session of Congress.
The attack with its tragic consequences came, and those Republicans who participated in this tragedy, especially the 43 senators who voted to acquit, will long be remembered for the role they played in this sad and tragic chapter in our nation's history.
And Sen. Mitch McConnell may rue the day that he allowed this to happen -- the day that he and 42 other GOP senators simply licked the boots of the man who had jeopardized their own lives on January 6, 2021.