Mitch McConnell Calls for President Trump to Be Tried as a Criminal Over the Capitol Riot but Is Afraid to Put it in Writing

Nicholas Kamm/Pool via AP

Yesterday, in the aftermath of the putrid and effervescent puddle of #FAIL produced by The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body™, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave a diatribe excoriating President Trump, see Following Acquittal, Mitch McConnell Absolutely Unloads on Donald Trump.

This is his whole speech; you may want to watch the whole thing if you no longer have a gag reflex; otherwise, it is cued up to the important part.

This is the key part:

Impeachment, conviction, and removal are a specific intra-governmental safety valve. It is not the criminal justice system, where individual accountability is the paramount goal.

Indeed, Justice Story specifically reminded that while former officials were not eligible for impeachment or conviction, they were, and this is extremely important, “still liable to be tried and punished in the ordinary tribunals of justice.

Put another way, in the language of today, President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, as an ordinary citizen, unless the statute of limitations has run, still liable for everything he did while he was in office. 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 held accountable by either one.

Here McConnell seems to be agitating to subject President Trump to unending legal persecution and implying that unless there were some kind of follow-up criminal and/or civil action, President Trump would be getting away with something.

In my post taking Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy to task for treating the impeachment proceeding as some kind of talent show or gladiatorial contest where the winner was the contestant with the most panache rather than a Constitutional process, even one so grotesquely abused as this impeachment (Senator Bill Cassidy Shows Us What Is Wrong With the GOP Establishment):

The right thing to do, even the easy thing to do, in this case, was to vote to not turn American politics into Third World blood sport politics by hunting down and punishing people who lost an election…and make no mistake, that is exactly where we are headed (see Donald Trump Is Now Under Criminal Investigation in Georgia) and with predictable results.

applies to McConnell.

Trump is out of office. The precedent McConnell should be worrying about establishing is the ritual prosecution of the losers of elections and their families by the winners of elections. As we’ve seen, this ensures that democracy, in some form, lasts exactly as long as it takes one electoral loser to decide that he will not be bankrupted or imprisoned and, by the way, he is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

Interestingly, the speech McConnell gave in the Senate is not the same one that his communications office released to the public. This is the written statement with the additions in bold.

Impeachment, conviction, and removal are a specific intra-governmental safety valve. It is not the criminal justice system, where individual accountability is the paramount goal.

Indeed, Justice Story specifically reminded that while former officials were not eligible for impeachment or conviction, they were, and this is extremely important, “still liable to be tried and punished in the ordinary tribunals of justice.

Put another way, in the language of today, President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, as an ordinary citizen, unless the statute of limitations has run, still liable for everything he did while he was in office. 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 held accountable by either one.

Both point out the correct role of impeachment in our system of government, despite the position the punditocracy at National Review has staked out, the actual speech, though, says that unless Trump is called into court over the Capitol riot that he got away with something.

It seems like McConnell, by sending two messages,  is trying to do what McConnell has always been good at doing: playing off both ends against the middle.

On the one hand, McConnell has opposed the impeachment of President Trump four times in two trials. This lets him go back home and tell the rubes his constituents that he fought, fought damned hard, against the unconstitutional use of the impeachment process.

To the editorial pages of the New York Times and Washington Post, he is saying, “look, there were never 17 GOP votes for impeachment, this was a dumb idea, but this son of a bitch should be in prison because he instigated a riot in the Capitol.”

I think there is another issue at play here, too.

It was widely reported after Joe Biden produced more votes to be counted than did President Trump that McConnell was talking about “purging” Trump supporters from the GOP, see It Is a Lot More Likely That Trump Purges the GOP Establishment Than Him and His Supporters Being Purged by Them. I think the reality has dawned on McConnell that the autoerotic fantasy of 70-some million Trump voters disappearing and him being made the head of a GOP created in his own image is not going to happen, either for him or Kevin Williamson, see Opinion: Great Move NRO; You Just Insulted 75 MILLION Americans. A poll sponsored by CNBC and taken after the House impeached President Trump found three-fourths of Republicans want President Trump to remain actively involved in politics.

When it comes to Republicans, 74% want him to stay active in some way, including 48% who want him to remain head of the Republican Party, 11% who want him to start a third party, and 12% who say he should remain active in politics but not as head of any party.

“If we’re talking about Donald Trump’s future, at the moment, the survey shows he still has this strong core support within his own party who really want him to continue to be their leader,” said Jay Campbell, a partner with Hart Research and the Democratic pollster for the survey.

My guess would be that he reasons that if Trump is not going away, he can help paint Trump as a very, very bad man.

If he can assist in having Trump dragged before enough state courts for offenses criminal and civil as well as real and imaginary, then he thinks 74 million Americans will realize that they were bamboozled and agree that they should go back to the days of letting their betters run things.