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McConnell after acquittal: Trump 'did not get away with anything — yet'

McConnell, who voted "not guilty" in the trial, said the Senate's decision to acquit Trump "does not condone anything that happened on or before that terrible day."

Updated: February 13, 2021 - 9:54pm

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After voting to acquit former President Trump on jurisdictional grounds in his impeachment trial Saturday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell blasted Trump's actions prior to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol as "a disgraceful dereliction of duty" in a blistering speech on the floor of the chamber.

"There's no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day, no question about it," McConnell said. "The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president."

McConnell also signaled that Trump could still face civil or criminal charges after the acquittal. 

"President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, as an ordinary citizen, unless the statute of limitations has run; still liable for everything he did while he was in office. He did not get away with anything — yet," McConnell said. "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."

McConnell said the Senate was right not to grab power that the Constitution does not provide.

"The Senate was right not to entertain some light-speed sham process to try to outrun the loss of jurisdiction," he said, referring to the impeachment trial. "It took both sides more than a week just to produce their pretrial briefs.

"Speaker Pelosi's own scheduling decisions conceded what President Biden publicly confirmed. A Senate verdict before inauguration day was never possible. This has been a dispiriting time, but the Senate has done our duty. The framers' firewall held up again. On January 6, we returned to our post and certified the election."

McConnell emphasized that the Senate's decision to acquit Trump "does not condone anything that happened on or before that terrible day" of Jan. 6.

"It simply shows that senators did what the former president failed to do," he said. "We put our constitutional duty first." 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she salutes the Republican senators who "voted their conscience" and described acquitting Trump as "one of the darkest days and most dishonorable acts" in the nation's history.
 
"Tragically, Senate Republicans who voted not to convict chose to abandon the Constitution, the country and the American people with this vote," Pelosi said. "Thank God for the judges and Republican elected officials across the country who pushed back against Donald Trump's attempted overturning of our election, which fueled the insurrection."

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