McConnell’s attempt to defend the indefensible (the Senate’s and his own vote to acquit) is a disgrace — and a big fail

McConnell is getting high marks for his speech, even from some Ds. He does deserve credit for torching Trump for his conduct. Even so, his main argument — that the Senate properly acquitted because only a sitting officer can be convicted — is disgraceful. 1/22

Watch: McConnell’s full remarks following Senate vote to acquit TrumpDuring a lengthy and powerful speech on the Senate floor, Mitch McConnell blamed former President Trump for “ a growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole.”

McConnell’s argument is based on the entirely erroneous and unsubstantiated allegation that the Constitution considers only two possible kinds of individuals: (1) private citizens, and (2) a POTUS, VPOTUS, or government official currently in office. 2/22

This is nonsense. There are THREE types of individuals to consider under the Constitution: the two kinds McConnell mentions, and *a person who is a private individual NOW who WAS an officer and who engaged in impeachable conduct when he or she WAS in office*! 3/22

To see through the dishonesty of McConnell’s argument, note that he elides one of the most important words used in the relevant Article of the Constitution: the word *”disqualify.*” 4/22

I would have to watch the whole wretched thing again to be sure of this, but as I recall McConnell never once uses or refers to the crucial term “disqualify.” (If you watch the speech and find him using it, kindly let me know.) 5/22

This is an important and damning omission, because, while the Senate cannot remove an individual unless he or she is presently in office, it can certainly *disqualify* from holding future office individuals who engaged in impeachable conduct when they *were* in office. 6/22

Although McConnell does not use or mention the term “disqualify” in his miserable speech, he does *allude* to the idea once very indirectly, at the point where he reaches the full crescendo (to use one of McConnell’s favorite words) of absurdity. 7/22

McConnell contends that if the Senate asserted authority to convict Trump now (which it had already voted that it *did* have the authority do, which is why it went to trial), 8/22

then it would have asserted the authority to bar *any* private citizen from future office! (See how the concept of *disqualification” sneaks in here?; and he only uses it in an attempt to justify *acquittal*!) 9/22

This is an absurd argument to make, because you and I and all other private citizens are not citizens who have held office formerly and committed impeachable offenses when in office, as Trump clearly did.

So McConnell is simply using apples to argue about oranges here. 10/22

When the House impeaches, there are FOUR possible outcomes in the Senate: (1) acquittal; (2) conviction, removal, and disqualification; (3) conviction, removal, no disqualification; and (4) conviction and disqualification from holding future office if no longer in office. 11/22

Trump clearly falls under the fourth possible outcome. You and I and all other private citizens clearly do not (because we never even held a constitutionally covered office). 12/22

Here is the language of the Article, which McConnell never quotes in full b/c he omits the crucial word “disqualify”: “removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor.”

(For more on this, see my Medium article): 13/22

Is a Senate trial of Trump’s impeachment by the House constitutional now, even though he is no…It is a fundamental mistake to confuse congressional impeachment with a civil trial. The two have quite different purposes, and very…

McConnell’s constitutional argument is so weak that even he has to acknowledge at one point in his speech that constitutional scholars have disagreed on the question, and that he respects those scholars and even Senators who hold a different opinion about it. 14/22

But even here McConnell is quite dishonest, because he does not acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of constitutional scholars have in fact come down on the *other* side of the issue. 15/22

This is the same kind of dishonest move that Trump has developed into an art form. For example, in his incitement to the riot on Jan 6 Trump cited John Eastman, one of his legal advisers at the time, 16/22

who had advised him that Pence as VP had the power to unilaterally choose which EC votes to accept and which to reject on Jan 6. 17/22

(This claim was so unequivocally wrong and indeed fraudulent that Eastman apparently lost his job as law professor at Chapman College in Orange County over it.) 18/22

McConnell also defends his vote for acquittal on the grounds that the acquittal isn’t the end of the matter, and that, in his words, “Impeachment is never meant to be the final forum for American justice” — suggesting that Trump can still be held to account in civil court. 19/22

Even some Ds have praised McConnell for this part of the speech too, but they shouldn’t have done so, because it misses the crucial point that the Senate has the sole power to convict and *disqualify* from holding future office. Civil courts do not have this power. 20/22

All in all, this was yet another disgraceful and shabby performance by McConnell. No wonder Pelosi went ballistic just now at the House manager presser on Capitol Hill over McConnell’s speech. (See my immediately preceding tweet.) 21/22

Watch the whole speech anyway. It does have some very good points, but they are far outweighed by all the highly consequential atrocious arguments that McConnell advances to defend the indefensible: the Senate’s acquittal and his own vote for it. 22/22



The Resistance. Vote Blue: True Blue American. We look forward, they look back. We’re progressive, they’re regressive. @twoodiac

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Thomas Wood

The Resistance. Vote Blue: True Blue American. We look forward, they look back. We’re progressive, they’re regressive. @twoodiac