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UPDATE 1-After not-guilty vote, McConnell says Trump 'morally responsible' for Capitol riot

Makini Brice and David Morgan
·3 min read

(Adds fresh comments from Pelosi, Raskin, Portman and Grassley)

By Makini Brice and David Morgan

WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Minority LeaderMitch McConnell called Donald Trump "practically and morallyresponsible" for his supporters' deadly attack on the Capitol,only moments after voting to acquit the Republican formerpresident on an impeachment charge of inciting the melee.

The top Senate Republican explained the unexpected turnaboutat the end of a five-day impeachment trial, by declaring itunconstitutional to convict Trump of misconduct now that theformer president has left office and become a private citizen.

The Senate earlier in the week found that the trial wasconstitutional in a 56-44 vote.

"There is no question that President Trump is practicallyand morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,"said McConnell, who along with the rest of the Congress andformer Vice President Mike Pence fled the mob that descended onthe Capitol on Jan. 6.

"The people who stormed this building believed they wereacting on the wishes and instructions of their president,"McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor.

The remarks came soon after the 100-seat chamber acquittedTrump on a single charge of inciting insurrection in a 57-43vote that failed to reach the 67-vote threshold necessary forconviction. Seven Senate Republicans joined Democrats to votefor conviction.

The House of Representatives had impeached Trump on Jan. 13,a week before he left office.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denounced the senators who madeTrump's acquittal possible as a "cowardly group of Republicans"and blamed McConnell for not allowing the House to deliver theimpeachment charge to the Senate while Trump was still in theWhite House.

"Senator Mitch McConnell just went to the floor essentiallyto say that we made our case on the facts," said RepresentativeJamie Raskin, who had led the nine House Democrats whoprosecuted Trump before the Senate.

McConnell was not the only Republican to castigate Trump forhis behavior after voting for acquittal.

"The question I must answer is not whether President Trumpsaid and did things that were reckless and encouraged the mob. Ibelieve that happened," Senator Rob Portman in a statement.

"My decision was based on my reading of the Constitution,"the Ohio Republican added. "I believe the Framers understoodthat convicting a former president and disqualifying him or herfrom running again pulls people further apart."

Senator Chuck Grassley, the Senate's most senior Republican,described Trump's language in a fiery speech to supporters justbefore the Capitol assault as "extreme, aggressive andirresponsible."

But he said the Senate had no jurisdiction to hold a trial,agreed with Trump's legal team that the former presidentdeserved more "due process" and said the prosecution had notmade their case.

In comments that echoed the prosecution's case, McConnellsaid Trump had orchestrated "an intensifying crescendo ofconspiracy theories" and described the former president as"determined to either overturn the voters' decision or elsetorch our institutions on the way out."

McConnell suggested that Trump could still face criminalprosecution for his acts.

"President Trump is still liable for everything he did whilehe was in office as an ordinary citizen," McConnell said. "Hedidn't get away with anything. Yet."(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Scott Malone, JonathanOatis and Daniel Wallis)