Raskin says McConnell should have ‘stuck with the courage of his convictions’ over Trump impeachment

Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland lamented the fact that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell did not vote to convict former president Donald Trump in the former president’s second impeachment trial in 2021.

Mr Raskin, the lead impeachment manager for Mr Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate regarding Mr Trump’s incitement of the January 6 riot at the US Capitol, spoke to The Independent upon news Mr McConnell would step aside as Republican leader in November.

“I wish Senator McConnell had shown the courage of his convictions and his real sentiments,” Mr Raskin said.

Mr McConnell’s wife Elaine Chao resigned as secretary of the Transportation Department in protest at Mr Trump’s whipping up a horde of his supporters to breach the US Capitol and threaten the life of lawmakers during the certification of the 2020 presidential election results.

But Mr McConnell and all but seven Republicans voted to acquit Mr Trump despite the fact Mr McConnell acknowledged Mr Trump acted in a way that caused the attack at the Capitol.

Mr Raskin said that during the impeachment trial wherein he delivered evidence of Mr Trump’s culpability, he stood 15 to 20 feet away from Mr McConnell on a daily basis.

“His body language, his facial expressions, and his statements all revealed that he was shocked and appalled and disgusted by what Donald Trump had done,” Mr Raskin said. “And yet, he could not bring himself to vote with seven Republican colleagues to join all 50 Democrats in affirming the obvious, which is that Donald Trump had incited an insurrection against the Constitution the election and in the union.”

Mr McConnell did later denounce Mr Trump, saying his “actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty.” but he later said that he could not be convicted because he was by then a former president.

“However, in the context of impeachment, the Senate might have decided this was acceptable shorthand for the reckless actions that preceded the riot,” Mr McConnell said in a speech after the end of the Senate trial. “But in this case, that question is moot. Because former President Trump is constitutionally not eligible for conviction.”

But Mr Raskin, a former constitutional lawyer and professor at American University, said he refuted the rationale and the fact that the Senate had voted 56-44 to proceed with the impeachment trial on the first day of proceedings.

“That's why I say this is, you know, the actual result in Trump's second trial was the greatest case of jury nullification in American history,” he said. “Basically, the senators who are both the judge and the jury, contradicted themselves. They said, as a court of law, that they had jurisdiction, they heard the case and then they said in deciding guilt and innocence, that although Donald Trump was guilty, he should not have been tried because there wasn't jurisdiction, that that legal issue had already been decided.”

Ultimately, not only did Mr McConnell make that argument, but so did his potential successors, Senate Minority Whip John Thune, Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso and Senator John Cornyn of Texas. All three men have endorsed Mr Trump in his 2024 bid to re-assume the presidency.

“I wish that Senator McConnell had stuck with the courage of his convictions and not hung his hat on that very flimsy jurisdictional argument,” Mr Raskin said.