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, Reuters reported.
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 January 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.
McConnell said Trump had orchestrated “an intensifying crescendo of conspiracy theories” and described the former president as “determined to either overturn the voters’ decision or else torch our institutions on the way out.”
McConnell suggested that Trump could still face criminal prosecution for his acts, Reuters reported.
“President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office as an ordinary citizen,” McConnell said. “He didn’t get away with anything. Yet.”