Raskin: Trump found guilty in 'the court of public opinion and the court of history'

WASHINGTON — The lead House impeachment manager, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., criticized Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for “trying to have it both ways” by voting to acquit former President Donald Trump on charges he incited last month’s attack on the Capitol, arguing that history will deem the president responsible nonetheless.

In an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” Sunday, Raskin called the impeachment trial a “dramatic success in historical terms,” noting that it was the most bipartisan impeachment conviction vote in American history.

“We successfully prosecuted him and convicted him in the court of public opinion and the court of history,” Raskin said.

“He’s obviously a major political problem for the Republican Party, and as long as he’s out there attempting to wage war on American constitutional democracy, he’s a problem for all of us.”

Last week, Raskin and other impeachment managers prosecuted the case against Trump, arguing that he incited his supporters’ attack on the Capitol building last month by spreading debunked conspiracy theories claiming the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him and effectively green-lit the attack through his rhetoric.

Fifty-seven senators, including seven Republicans, voted against Trump, ten votes short of the 67 needed to convict him in the Senate. The seven were Richard Burr, R-N.C.; Bill Cassidy, R-La., Susan Collins, R-Maine; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Mitt Romney, R-Utah; Ben Sasse, R-Neb.; and Pat Toomey, R-Pa.

McConnell, the GOP’s leader in the Senate, ultimately voted to acquit Trump. But in a scathing speech on the Senate floor just after the vote, McConnell said the former president was “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day” while also arguing that he believed the Senate trial was unconstitutional because Trump was no longer in office.

“This body is not invited to act as the nation’s overarching moral tribunal. We are not free to work backward from whether the accused party might personally deserve some kind of punishment,” McConnell said.

“But this just underscores that impeachment was never meant to be the final forum for American justice.”

Raskin questioned how McConnell could feel that way and not vote to convict Trump.

“I would have liked to have had him on the impeachment managers’ team based on the way he presented that, except then he went back to the completely counterfeit argument that the Senate could not conduct the trial,” Raskin said of McConnell’s belief the Senate couldn’t convict a president no longer in office.

“They decided to hang their hat on that very dubious hook in order to, basically, cater to Trump and the forces within the party that are still loyal to him in a really cultish and dangerous way.”

Raskin also addressed questions about the impeachment managers’ strategy, particularly about a last-minute reversal on whether to call witnesses and about whether more Republicans would have been convinced to support a more narrowly-tailored impeachment article.

He defended the House strategy by declaring he had “no regrets” and said that he believed many Republicans were always going to “find some reason” to side with Trump despite the “mountain of unrefuted evidence.”

“You can always come up with a lawyer’s argument to get to where you want to go. And they did not honestly confront the reality of what happened to America, which was Donald Trump incited a violent mob to attack the Congress of the United States,” he said.

“So, you know what? We have no regrets at all. We left it totally out there on the floor of the U.S. Senate, and every senator knew exactly what happened.”

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