This is a short diary written from having watched Moscow Mitch live a few minutes ago. He spoke for perhaps 15 minutes and spent most of it denouncing Trump for what he did, and suggested that, while the House may or may not have met the standard of criminal proof, Trump could be brought up on charges.
Then he shifted to explaining why, if all that was true, he didn’t vote to convict. It was because it was too late; Trump was no longer in office. I have to admit that the case he laid out, using the words of Article II, section 4, was reasonable. Wrong, in the opinion of most Constitutional scholars, but reasonable.
With two exceptions:
He read section 4 twice and each time, stopped before the words “disqualification from further office.” That would have weakened his argument and he knew it.
Second, he claimed that the House had delayed sending the article of impeachment over and that it was their fault that the trial didn’t start until after Trump had left office. This is wrong and he knows it, because he was the one who stopped the Speaker from sending the article on the 15th, as she had tried to do.
MSNBC commentators point out that McConnell was likely speaking to the likes of Ted Olsen, who had promised not to give any money to any Republican who voted to acquit. That is almost certainly true; McConnell’s every move is calculated based on how it will help get his majority in 2022. He needs those donors, and he needs the votes of Trump supporters.
This puts him between a rock and a hard place, between Scilla and Charbydis, between the devil and the deep blue sea, between one metaphor and one metaphor too many. Still. He hitched his wagon and the GOP’s wagon to Trump and he knows he has no way to unhook them.
I will allow him this one small saving grace, but only barely: He does respect the institution of the Senate just enough that he was and remains legitimately outraged at the insurrection that Trump started and encouraged, and he knows Trump is responsible. He outrage let him blame Trump in a speech, but it was not enough to move him to vote against Trump when it counted.
No amount of forked tonguing will rescue him from that dilemma.
Here is a transcript of his speech: www.ocregister.com/…