“There’s no question — none — that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” the Kentucky Republican said.
He said Mr. Trump is using the 74 million Americans who voted for him “as a kind of human shield against criticism.”
“Seventy-four million Americans did not engineer the campaign of disinformation and rage that provoked [the riot],” Mr. McConnell said.
He said his vote against conviction was “a close question.”
“This body is not invited to act as the nation’s overarching moral tribunal,” Mr. McConnell said of the Senate. “We are not free to work backward. We have no power to convict and disqualify a former office-holder who is now a private citizen.”
But he said former presidents are not immune from the criminal justice system.
“President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office,” Mr. McConnell said. “We have a criminal justice system in this country, and we have civil litigation, and former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one.”
Mr. Schumer insisted the 57 senators who voted to convict the former president were right in holding him accountable for inciting a violent insurrection during a joint session of Congress to certify the 2020 results by continuously claiming the election was stolen for months.
The Senate held the impeachment trial for only five days, short by historical standards. Many Republicans viewed holding a trial for a president who is no longer in office was unconstitutional.
Donald Trump Jr., the eldest son of the former president, hit back hard at Mr. McConnell on Twitter.
“If only McConnell was so righteous as the Democrats trampled Trump and the Republicans while pushing Russia collusion bulls—- for 3 years or while Dems incited 10 months of violence, arson, and rioting. Yea then he just sat back and did jack sh—,” Mr. Trump Jr. tweeted.