Republican senators let former President Donald Trump off “on a technicality,” Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.), a House impeachment manager, said Saturday after Trump escaped conviction for the second time in a little over a year.
Castro was arguing that many of the 43 GOP lawmakers who voted that Trump was not guilty of inciting an insurrection on Jan. 6 did so because they believed it wasn’t constitutional to try an ex-president. He likely won’t hear much of a rebuttal from within that contingent. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), for example, said Trump’s actions in the lead up the Capitol riot were “inexcusable,” but couldn’t shake his stance that the trial should not have taken place in the first place.
Portman calls Trump’s conduct “inexcusable” after he voted to acquit.
Said he did so because he doesn’t think trial was constitutional.
— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) February 13, 2021
Senate Minority Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also said the constitutionality question was his primary reason for acquitting before tearing into Trump on the Senate floor. Others, like Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and James Lankford (R-Okla.), were less direct in their criticism of the president, but similarly suggested they based their votes on whether they thought the trial was Constitutional, rather than the case itself.
In the end, only Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) separated the two votes. While he agreed the trial was unconstitutional initially, once the Senate decided to move forward, he accepted the proceedings in full and wound up voting to convict.