U.S Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called Donald Trump “practically and morally responsible” for his supporters’ deadly attack on the Capitol, only moments after voting to acquit the Republican former president on an impeachment charge of inciting the melee.
The top Senate Republican explained the unexpected turnabout at the end of a five-day impeachment trial, by declaring it unconstitutional to convict Trump of misconduct now that the former president has left office and become a private citizen.
The Senate earlier in the week found that the trial was constitutional in a 56-44 vote.
“There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” said McConnell, who along with the rest of the Congress and former Vice President Mike Pence fled the mob that descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president,” McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor.
The remarks came soon after the 100-seat chamber acquitted Trump on a single charge of inciting insurrection in a 57-43 vote that failed to reach the 67-vote threshold necessary for conviction. Seven Senate Republicans joined Democrats to vote for conviction.
The House of Representatives had impeached Trump on Jan. 13, a week before he left office.