Mitch McConnell refused to hold an impeachment trial while Donald Trump was in office. And on Saturday morning, he told his colleagues he would acquit Trump because the trial is unconstitutional since Trump is no longer in office.
“While a close call, I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we therefore lack jurisdiction,” McConnell wrote to Senate Republicans. (He joined 44 Senate Republicans earlier in the week in voting that the trial was unconstitutional.)
Of course, McConnell helped created the very timeline he’s now claims is forcing his hand. A week after Trump incited a violent insurrection at the US Capitol, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer asked McConnell to hold an emergency trial, but McConnell refused to bring the Senate back from recess.
Much was made of how McConnell might vote to convict Trump. He sharply denounced Trump for his actions on the Senate floor. “The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people,” he said on January 19.
But in many ways McConnell had spent weeks helping embolden Trump’s Big Lie. On November 9, after the media had called the election for Joe Biden, McConnell said “President Trump is 100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options.” McConnell didn’t recognize Biden as the president-elect until after the Electoral College certified Biden’s victory on December 14.
During that time, Trump filed dozens of frivolous lawsuits, which amplified the conspiracy theories about a stolen election that ultimately led to the insurrection at the Capitol.