On Saturday, Senate Minority Chairman Mitch McConnell spoke out in favor of convicting former President Donald Trump of inciting insurgency – less than half an hour after the vote to acquit Trump for inciting insurgency.
Before McConnell spoke to speak, he voted along with 42 other Republicans to find Trump not guilty of the former president-sanctioned impeachment, adding to the former president's conviction and possible disqualification from the exercise revoke a future elected office.
Then he warned, no doubt, that Trump's behavior on Jan. 6 – when a crowd of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol as Congress met to confirm President Joe Biden's victory at the electoral college – was a "shameful breach of duty" was.
"No question," said McConnell, "that President Trump was practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day," which killed five people, injured US Capitol officers and damaged parts of the building. "The people who stormed this building believed they were responding to the wishes and orders of their president."
Senator McConnell: "There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking events," Jan. 6.
"The people who stormed this building believed they were responding to the wishes and orders of their president." https://t.co/PbteRBQbpP pic.twitter.com/JZXcSeEICn
– This week (@ThisWeekABC) February 13, 2021
McConnell also criticized Trump's "moderate language" and the acceptance of wild conspiracy theories after his election defeat.
The mob's conviction that they were Trump's wishes "was a predictable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and ruthless exaggerations that the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet earth," McConnell said.
Those two points were, in brief, the arguments of the House impeachment executives for the president's conviction, which sparked a series of jokes on Twitter about the apparent discrepancy between McConnell's words and actions.
Mitch McConnell really made a compelling case for conviction here.
It will be shocking to Mitch McConnell when Mitch McConnell learns how Mitch McConnell voted.
– Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) February 13, 2021
Despite his harsh condemnation of Trump, McConnell said on Saturday after Trump's acquittal that the question of his behavior was "contentious" because former presidents were "constitutionally not entitled to convict".
Earlier this week, McConnell, along with 43 Republican senators, also voted for a trial to be unconstitutional – but there is reason to believe that the argument is more of an excuse than an ingrained belief.
For one thing, legal scholars from across the ideological spectrum – including those from conservative federalist society – disagree and said so in a letter published last month.
"We are different in our policies, and we are also different in matters of constitutional interpretation," the group wrote in January. "Despite our differences, based on our carefully considered views on the law, we agree that the Constitution allows for the impeachment, conviction and disqualification of former officials, including presidents."
And as journalist Yamiche Alcindor pointed out on Twitter on Saturday, McConnell, who was the Senate majority leader until January 20, was responsible for postponing the start of Trump's impeachment proceedings until after he left office.
As a reminder, Mitch McConnell said he would not hold a trial while former President Trump was in office, and he waited until January 20 to call out President Trump's lies that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
– Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) February 13, 2021
McConnell concluded on Saturday by arguing that "today's Senate decision does not condone anything that happened on or before that terrible day."
But in a statement released after the Senate ruling on Saturday, Trump sounded encouraged by his acquittal and attacked the impeachment as "yet another phase in the greatest witch hunt in our country's history".
"Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to make America great again has only just begun," Trump said. "There has never been anything like it!"