The Senate’s top Democrats on Saturday called the acquittal of former President Donald Trump a “vote of infamy,” alleging Trump incited the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol, while the body’s top Republican voted to acquit the former commander-in-chief.
“January 6 will live as a day of infamy in the history of the United States of America. The failure to convict Donald Trump will live as a vote of infamy in the history of the United States Senate,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor in Washington.
Schumer claimed Trump committed “most despicable act that any president has ever committed and the majority of Republicans cannot summon the courage or the morality to condemn it.” He accused the 43 lawmakers who voted to acquit of choosing Trump over their country and called the seven Republicans who sided with Democrats “Republican patriots.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was one of the 43 who found Trump not guilty. McConnell, who had an uneven partnership with Trump while he was in office, said before the trial he would keep an open mind and listen to the arguments presented by both sides before deciding how he’d vote.
McConnell took the floor after Schumer. While he believes Trump “fed wild falsehoods” about the 2020 election to his supporters, leading to the breach of the Capitol, the GOP leader, along with most other Republican senators, viewed the trial as unconstitutional because Trump left office on Jan. 20 as President Joe Biden was sworn in.
“Our system of government gave the Senate a specific task the constitution gives us a particular role. This body is not invited to act as the nation’s overarching moral tribunal. We’re not free to work backwards from whether the accused party might personally deserve some kind of punishment,” he said.
“If President Trump were still in office, I would carefully consider whether the House managers proved their specific charge. By the strict criminal standards, the president’s speech probably was not inciteful. However, in the context of impeachment, the Senate might’ve decided this was acceptable toward and for the reckless actions that proceeded riots. But in this case, the question is moot because former President Trump is constitutionally not eligible for conviction.”
House leaders have not yet responded to the vote. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) supported the impeachment efforts, while House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) did not.