Update (1650ET): In a rather stunning and head-scratchingly self-serving and hyprocritical moment, Leader McConnell spoke after the Senate acquitted former President Trump and threw him back under the bus while covering his own political ass.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a floor speech following his vote to acquit, unleashed his harshest criticism for the former president:
"Former President Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty.”
"There's no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it. The people that stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president," McConnell said.
"And having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole, which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on the earth," McConnell added.
Sen. Mitch McConnell: "There's no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day." pic.twitter.com/MFsRBgGF9x— The Hill (@thehill) February 13, 2021
McConnell also suggests that Trump can still be held to account in a court of law:
"President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he's in office. He didn't get away with anything yet.""We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one."
Was this the concession that Democrats demanded in order for them not to call witnesses? Or is this normal Washington gaslighting and the ongoing effort of establishment GOP to "unify" their party AWAY from Trump?
If the latter, judging by the twitter response, it's having the exact opposite effect:
@LeaderMcConnell Mitch your speak today just made Pres, Trump and the New Republican Party even stronger and has gained momentum and popularity! Thank you for being a Traitor showing the American People just how EVIL and CORRUPT you are, the DEM's are, and the OLD GOP party!— MikeONE (@MikeNikkiONE1) February 13, 2021
@LeaderMcConnell exemplifies the weakness of the Republicans in the US Senate! Time to clean house of these clowns and get true conservatives who will fight this attempted hostile takeover by radical socialist democrats! https://t.co/M9xf26zeFD— Free America - Live 🇺🇸 (@FreeAmericaLive) February 13, 2021
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Update (1605ET): Former President Trump has issued the following statement following his Senate acquittal (emphasis ours):
I want to first thank my team of dedicated lawyers and others for their tireless work upholding justice and defending truth.
My deepest thanks as well to all of the United States Senators and Members of Congress who stood proudly for the Constitution we all revere and for the sacred legal principles at the heart of our country.
Our cherished Constitutional Republic was founded on the impartial rule of law, the indispensable safeguard for our liberties, our rights and our freedoms.
It is a sad commentary on our times that one political party in America is given a free pass to denigrate the rule of law, defame law enforcement, cheer mobs, excuse rioters, and transform justice into a tool of political vengeance, and persecute, blacklist, cancel and suppress all people and viewpoints with whom or which they disagree. I always have, and always will, be a champion for the unwavering rule of law, the heroes of law enforcement, and the right of Americans to peacefully and honorably debate the issues of the day without malice and without hate.
This has been yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country. No president has ever gone through anything like it, and it continues because our opponents cannot forget the almost 75 million people, the highest number ever for a sitting president, who voted for us just a few short months ago.
I also want to convey my gratitude to the millions of decent, hardworking, law-abiding, God-and-Country loving citizens who have bravely supported these important principles in these very difficult and challenging times.
Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again 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. There has never been anything like it!
We have so much work ahead of us, and soon we will emerge with a vision for a bright, radiant, and limitless American future.
Together there is nothing we cannot accomplish.
We remain one People, one family, and one glorious nation under God, and it's our responsibility to preserve this magnificent inheritance for our children and for generations of Americans to come.
May God bless all of you, and may God forever bless the United States of America.
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Update (1542ET): To absolutely no one's surprise he Senate has acquitted former President Trump of incitement with a final vote of 57-43, with seven Republicans breaking ranks to vote with the Democrats.
This marks the second time in twelve months that Trump has survived impeachment.
2-0— Eric Trump (@EricTrump) February 13, 2021
So does the 2024 campaign begin tomorrow— zerohedge (@zerohedge) February 13, 2021
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Update (1300ET): After a couple of hours of 'negotiations' during which Sen. Cruz threatened to subpoena Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Trump's lawyers said they would call "100s of witnesses", a deal has been reached that means no witnesses will be called.
House impeachment managers dropped their request to obtain testimony from Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler after senators agreed instead to enter into the record an account of her secondhand account of a phone call between Trump and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.
This agreement has averted the prospect of an avalanche of requests for testimony from both sides that would have extended the impeachment trial beyond its expected conclusion later today (and perhaps delayed any attempts at reaching a stimulus agreement).
As a reminder, Senator Lindsey Graham, who has been advising Trump's legal team, said that if the Senate agrees to the request by House impeachment managers to depose Herrera Beutler, he’ll insist on “multiple witnesses”...starting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
He said she should be required “to answer the question as to whether or not there was credible evidence of pre-planned violence before President Trump spoke? Whether Speaker Pelosi, due to optics, refused requests by the Capitol Hill Police for additional resources like the National Guard?”
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Just when you thought Donald Trump's second impeachment trials was over, five Republicans have joined their Democratic colleagues in a Saturday morning vote (55-45) to call witnesses - an unexpected development in this snap impeachment over Trump's alleged role inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
GOP Sens. Collins, Graham, Murkowski, Romney and Sasse were the five.
The move - which was originally opposed by several Democrats, will allow them to strengthen their case. It is unclear what kind of delay this may cause, after impeachment managers and Trump's defense team estimated it would be over on Saturday.
In response to the vote, Trump attorney Michael van der Veen answered that if witnesses are going to be called, "I’m going to need more than 100 witnesses, not just one," adding "we should close this case out today," but if that doesn't happen, "Do not handcuff me by limiting the number of witnesses I can have."
Trump adviser Jason Miller is holding up this piece of paper for reporters, per pool: pic.twitter.com/LwBxYPl9sp— Josh Wingrove (@josh_wingrove) February 13, 2021
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren suggested that a debate on the number of witnesses should not take place, saying "I don’t think there’s any limit right now, and that’s part of what will be debated."
As Axios notes, Trump himself is Democrats' most desired witness, however the former president has already quashed that - saying he would not comply willingly. The Senate could subpoena him, however it's unclear whether they would have enough support.
Instead, Democrats plan to call GOP Rep. Jamie Herrera Butler of Washington, who the NY Times reported on Friday said Trump 'sided with the mob' during a phone call as the attack was unfolding. Herrera Butler, who voted to impeach Trump in the House, was requested to testify by House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin.
In a statement on Friday night, Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, Republican of Washington, recounted a phone call relayed to her by Mr. McCarthy of California, the minority leader, in which Mr. Trump was said to have sided with the rioters, telling the top House Republican that members of the mob who had stormed the Capitol were “more upset about the election than you are.”
She pleaded with witnesses to step forward and share what they knew about Mr. Trump’s actions and statements as the attack was underway. -NY Times
"To the patriots who were standing next to the former president as these conversations were happening, or even to the former vice president: if you have something to add here, now would be the time," said Herrera Beutler in a statement.
According to her account, McCarthy 'frantically' called Trump on Jan. 6 and asked him to "publicly and forcefully call off the riot," and that Trump replied that it was Antifa, not his supporters, who were responsible. When McCarthy pushed back saying that wasn't true, Trump allegedly said "Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are."
Senate Democrats who initially opposed witnesses include Kristen Gillibrand of NY, who said on Thursday: "We've heard from many witnesses based on their interviews and their video presentations, so, I feel like we've heard from enough witnesses." Sen. Angus King of Maine said "I think the case has been made. I don’t know what witnesses would add."
Once witnesses have testified, impeachment managers and Trump's defense team will present closing arguments - with each side allotted two hours. A full vote on whether to convict or acquit will follow.
To that end, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has told his fellow Senate GOP in an email that he will vote to acquit the former president - writing "As I have said for some time, today's vote is a vote of conscience and I know we will all treat it as such," according to Politico's Burgess Everett.