Former President Donald Trump's actions preceding the riot at the U.S. Capitol were a "disgraceful dereliction of duty" and there is "no question, none," that he "is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day," and Trump could still face criminal or civil punishment, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a strongly worded address after the Senate's vote for acquittal.
However, McConnell, who voted Trump was not guilty, said Trump could not constitutionally be found guilty as a former president, adding he does not believe the Senate should "grab power the Constitution doesn't give us."
Trump, though, "didn't get away with anything yet," McConnell said.
"Unless the statute of limitations has run, he is still liable for everything he did while he was in office," McConnell said. "He didn't get away with anything yet. 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."
If Trump was still in office, however, "I would have carefully considered whether the House managers proved their specific charge . . . the question is moot because former President Trump is constitutionally not eligible for conviction."
However, McConnell left no doubt he believes Trump incited the rioters who attacked the Capitol as it was confirming the Electoral College's vote for President Joe Biden.
"[Trump] was angry he lost an election," McConnell said. "The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president."
That belief, he added, 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 planet Earth."
The issue, he added, was not because of Trump's "intemperate language" Jan. 6, but "also the entire manufactured atmosphere of looming catastrophe, the increasingly wild myths, myths about a reverse landslide election that was somehow being stolen, some secret coup by our now-president."
McConnell also stressed the legal system and Electoral College spoke, but that just "opened a new chapter of even wilder and more unfounded claims."
"The leader of the free world cannot spend weeks thundering that shadowy forces are stealing our country and then feign surprise when people believe him and do reckless things," McConnell said. "This was an intensifying crescendo of conspiracy theories orchestrated by an outgoing president who seemed determined to either overturn the voters' decision or else torch our institutions on the way out."
Trump's "unconscionable behavior" did not end when the riot started, he added.
"We know he was watching the same live television as the rest of us," McConnell continued. "A mob was assaulting the Capitol in his name. These criminals carried his banners, hanging his flags and screaming their loyalty to him."
And, McConnell said Trump was the only person who could end the violence, but even though former aides, loyal allies, and more called on him to end the violence, Trump "did not act swiftly; he did not do his job; he didn't take steps so federal law could be faithfully executed and order restored."
Instead, according to public reports, "he watched television happily, happily," McConnell said, and even when it was apparent Vice President Mike Pence was in serious danger, "the president sent a further tweet attacking his own vice president."
Further, even with "police officers bleeding and broken glass covering Capitol floors, he kept repeating election lies and praising the criminals," McConnell said.
Trump's associates, he added, have tried to use the 74 million Americans who voted to reelect him as a "human shield" against criticism.
"Anyone who decries his awful behavior is accused of insulting millions of voter: That's an absurd deflection; . 74 million Americans did not invade the Capitol," McConnell said. "Hundreds of rioters did."
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.