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McConnell defends his vote to acquit Trump as his approval rating tanks even more

Mitch McConnell has just a 19% approval rating after his vote to acquit Donald Trump on a technicality of his own making.

By Emily Singer - February 16, 2021
Mitch McConnell

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday once again defended his decision to acquit Donald Trump on the impeachment charge of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, writing in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that even though he believed Trump is guilty he did not believe it was constitutional to convict a former president.

“I was as outraged as any member of Congress,” McConnell wrote of Trump’s actions, saying Trump “bears moral responsibility” for the insurrection that left five people dead and more than 100 law enforcement officers injured. “But senators take our own oaths. Our job wasn’t to find some way, any way, to inflict a punishment. The Senate’s first and foundational duty was to protect the Constitution.”

McConnell, however, was the one who delayed Trump’s impeachment trial until after Trump left office.

The House impeached Trump on Jan. 13 — seven days before Trump left office. McConnell, who at the time was still the majority leader, refused to allow the impeachment trial to begin until after President Joe Biden was sworn in. Then McConnell used that delay to justify his decision to acquit Trump.

McConnell’s attempt to defend his actions comes as he faces criticism from all sides of the political for his decision.

Republicans like Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) are criticizing McConnell for blaming Trump at all for the insurrection.

“He got a load off his chest, obviously, but unfortunately he put a load on the back of Republicans,” Graham said in an interview on Fox News on Sunday. “That speech you will see in 2022 campaigns.”

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called McConnell’s decision “pathetic.”

“It’s pathetic that @LeaderMcConnell kept the Senate shut down so that Article of Impeachment couldn’t be received & used that as his excuse for voting to acquit,” Pelosi (D-CA) tweeted Saturday, after McConnell defended his acquittal vote in a speech on the Senate floor. 

McConnell’s attempt to try to have it both ways may be taking a toll on his approval.

A Politico/Morning Consult poll released on Tuesday found McConnell’s approval rating at just 19%, with a whopping 63% holding an unfavorable view of him.

That represents a dramatic fall since the end of November, when Politico/Morning Consult found McConnell with a 30% favorability rating and 45% saying they had an unfavorable view. That marks an 11 percentage point decline in his favorability rating and an 18 percentage point spike in his unfavorable rating.

McConnell’s rating is even worse than Trump’s, who had a 34% favorable rating in the Politico/Morning Consult survey from Tuesday.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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