Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-K.Y., had made an uncomfortable alliance with former President Donald Trump and his “MAGA” supporters.
After Trump was acquitted after his second impeachment trial Saturday, McConnell immediately got to work purging conservative populists from the Republican Party, critics said.
Sponsored: 1 Surprising Food that Feeds Cancer Cells
In a stunning speech Saturday from the Senate floor, Sen. McConnell delivered a harsh denunciation of Trump, calling him “morally responsible” for the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
McConnell said he only voted “not guilty” because he said a former president could not constitutionally face trial in the Senate.
Washington’s most powerful Republican and the Senate’s minority leader used his strongest language to date to excoriate Trump minutes after the Senate acquitted the former president, voting 57-43 to convict him but falling well short of the two-thirds majority needed to find him guilty. Seven Republicans voted to convict.
Visibly angry, the Senate’s longest-serving GOP leader said Trump’s actions surrounding the attack on Congress were “a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty.” He even noted that though Trump is now out of office, he remains subject to the country’s criminal and civil laws.
“He didn’t get away with anything yet,” said McConnell, who turns 79 next Saturday and has led the Senate GOP since 2007.
It was a surprisingly bitter attack on Trump by McConnell, who could have used much of the same speech had he instead voted to convict Trump.
Sponsored: Best Water To Drink In The AM
In a scathing rebuke written in The Federalist, conservative Christopher Bedford said McConnell’s speech is part of a plan to rid Trump and his supporters from the Republican Party —
[McConnell] wants a return to promising to tackle illegal immigration before winking at corporate America that nothing will change. He wants to raise money on fighting the abortion of our infants while comfortably lifting nary a finger. He wants to shrug and change the subject when asked about men dominating women’s sports and using women’s bathrooms. He wants fewer taxes and more wars. Hell, he wants someone to blame for the Republican losses in the Georgia special election, and with them the loss of his seat at the head of the Senate.
Instead, his push to impeach ended with rebuke from his own conference. Angry and embarrassed, he blamed his own colleagues as well as the former president, performing a 20-minute attack ad for the left to use on Republicans for the next election cycle and beyond.
This conflict isn’t new, of course. Fiercely loyal pro-Trump Republicans — and before them, Tea Party Republicans — have been colliding with establishment Republicans for years.
McConnell had signaled last month that he was open to finding Trump guilty, a jaw-dropping admission of alienation after spending four years largely helping him or ducking comments about his most outrageous assertions.
McConnell informed GOP senators how he would vote in a private email early Saturday, saying, “While a close call, I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we therefore lack jurisdiction.”
REVEALED: The TRUE cause of tinnitus (surprising) [sponsored]
He expanded on his rationale on the Senate floor after Saturday’s roll call, making clear his enmity toward Trump’s actions.
“There is no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the event of that day,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this article