WINDSOR TERRACE — Democrats and Republicans are speaking out about the verdict and what lies ahead after former President Donald Trump was acquitted on an impeachment charge on Feb. 13.
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — who voted to acquit Trump because “by the strict criminal standard, the [former] President’s speech probably was not incitement,” condemned Trump after the verdict was made. He stated Trump’s actions made prior to the storming and breaching of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 were a “disgraceful dereliction of duty.”
“The Senate’s decision does not condone anything that happened on or before that terrible day,” McConnell said. “It simply shows that Senators did what the former president failed to do: We put our constitutional duty first.”
McConnell also remarked that Trump may be criminally liable for the violence that took place last month. State and federal criminal and civil investigations over Trump’s tax records, campaign financing, and business operations could also occur.
“We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former Presidents are not immune from being held accountable by either one,” McConnell said on Feb. 13.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who voted to acquit Trump, criticized McConnell’s post-acquittal speech saying it would not help Republicans in the next election.
“He got a load off his chest, obviously, but unfortunately, he put a load on the back of Republicans,” Graham said. “That speech you will see in 2022 campaigns.”
Sixty-seven votes, or two-thirds of senators, were needed to convict Trump. Only 57 senators voted in favor of conviction, including seven Republicans.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the Republicans “cowardly” and also criticized McConnell’s speech.
“It was a very disingenuous speech,” Pelosi said on Feb. 13. “And I say that regretfully because I always want to be able to work with the leadership of the other party.”
Prior to the impeachment vote, Pelosi wrote a letter to Democratic colleagues, stating that a 9/11-type commission should be created “to examine and report upon the facts, causes and security relating to the terrorist mob attack on January 6.” Democratic and Republican lawmakers have since expressed their support following the acquittal.
“We need a 9/11 commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again, and I want to make sure that the Capitol footprint can be better defended next time,” Graham said.
Trump released his own statement after the acquittal was announced, thanking his attorneys, senators, and members of Congress, and stating that his movement “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,” Trump said on Feb. 13.
President Joe Biden released a statement from the presidential retreat at Camp David. He reflected upon the lives lost that day — including the late Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick — as well as those who “demonstrated the courage to protect the integrity of our democracy … before and after the election.”
“This sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile,” Biden said. “That it must always be defended. That we must be ever vigilant. That violence and extremism has no place in America. And that each of us has a duty and responsibility as Americans, and especially as leaders, to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.”