Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walks to his office on the first day of former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial

Mitch McConnell Announces He Plans To Vote to Acquit Donald Trump and His Justifications Are Infuriating

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In an email sent to his fellow Senate Republicans, Mitch McConnell said that he plans to vote to acquit Donald Trump.

He said this despite the fact that the trial is not yet over. Trump’s legal team and the House impeachment managers concluded their arguments this week but the Senate has, in an unexpected move, now voted to allow witnesses to be called, meaning the trial could drag on for quite some time. (Update 12:55 pm: After voting to allow witnesses, Democrats nearly immediately folded and agreed not to call any. Instead, they’ll move on to closing arguments.)

It’s not unreasonable for McConnell to tell his colleagues that he hasn’t been convinced by the House Democrats, especially since he says in the email that he had “been asked directly by a number of you how I intend to vote.”

Unlike Trump’s first impeachment trial, this time around, McConnell is at least pretending like he gave the Democrats fair consideration, calling his decision a “close call.” I don’t believe that for a second but I assume (and hope) he does feel incredibly embarrassed by having to pretend like he found Trump’s lawyers’ arguments coherent, let alone convincing.

But the absolute worst thing about McConnell’s emails to his colleagues is the reason he gives for choosing to vote to acquit.

“While a close call, I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we there lack jurisdiction,” he writes.

Except the only reason why this impeachment trial doesn’t have the power of removal is because McConnell refused to hold the trial while Trump was still in office.

Back in mid-January, after the House had voted to impeach, the Senate was on break until January 19, the day before Biden’s inauguration. McConnell refused to bring his colleagues back to D.C. for an emergency vote.

So thanks to McConnell, there was no possibility of holding a Senate trial while Trump was in office, and now that he’s gone, McConnell says a Senate trial isn’t appropriate. The only option now, he says, is criminal or civil prosecution. He is once again pretending to have convictions but declaring there’s just nothing he can do about him.

“The Constitution makes perfectly clear that Presidential criminal misconduct while in office can be prosecuted after the President has left office, which in my view alleviates the otherwise troubling ‘January exception’ argument raised by the House,” writes McConnell.

There is no one that knows how to shift responsibility harder than Mitch McConnell. If it weren’t so cowardly, it might actually be an impressive skill.

(via Politico, image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.