22 GOP senators blame Trump for Capitol riot — but voted to acquit him anyway


'I have said that what President Trump did that day was inexcusable because in his speech he encouraged the mob,' said one senator who voted to acquit.

On Feb. 13, all but seven Senate Republicans voted in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump to acquit him on the single charge of incitement of insurrection for his role in the attack by his followers on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Twenty-two of those senators who voted to acquit have said that Trump in fact bears responsibility for the violence at the Capitol.

1) Sen. Mitch McConnell (KY)

McConnell was among the 43 Republicans who voted to acquit Trump on Saturday. After the vote, McConnell said, "There is no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. A mob was assaulting the Capitol in his name. These criminals were carrying his banners, hanging his flags and screaming their loyalty to him."

2) Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC)

"When it comes to accountability, the president needs to understand that his actions were the problem, not the solution," Graham said shortly after the Capitol attack, adding, "It breaks my heart that my friend, a president of consequence, would allow yesterday to happen and it will be a major part of his presidency."

3) Sen. Ted Cruz (TX)

Shortly after the riots, Cruz told a Houston ABC affiliate, "The president's language and rhetoric often goes too far. I think, yesterday in particular, the president's language and rhetoric crossed the line and it was reckless. I disagree with it, and I have disagreed with the president's language and rhetoric for the last four years."

4) Sen. John Thune (SD)

Asked by CNN the day before the Senate trial vote if he if he was willing to defend Trump's behavior leading up to the Capitol attack, Thune answered, "No, not at all. The way he handled the post-election, both in terms of his public statements and things that he tried to do to change the outcome, no."

5) Sen. Mike Rounds (SD)

The evening of the Capitol attack, Rounds commented, "If anything [Trump] urged, in a very emotional situation, very inappropriate action by people that appear to be his supporters."

6) Sen. John Cornyn (TX)

Cornyn was asked by a reporter in late January whether he could defend Trump's words and actions leading up to the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol. "I'm not going to defend them," he said.

7) Sen. Roy Blunt (MO)

On Jan. 10, Blunt said, "Well, I think the president's decisions and his actions that day and leading up to that day on this topic were clearly reckless. I said that very early in the evening on Wednesday, that this was a tragic day for the country and the president had some — had involvement in that."

8) Sen. Mike Braun (IN)

In late January, Braun said, "I think most would have a lot of trouble saying there was no connection" between Trump's behavior and the deadly attack on the Capitol.

9) Sen. Kevin Cramer (ND)

Cramer told USA Today Jan. 6, "The call to march, and to, you know, march down to the Capitol, it was inciting. It was pouring fuel on a spark, so no, [Trump] does bear some responsibility."

10) Sen. John Boozman (AR)

Boozman said in a statement on Feb. 13, "While former President Donald Trump bears some responsibility for what happened that day, the perpetrators who planned, coordinated and assaulted the Capitol building must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law and brought to justice."

11) Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (WV)

In a statement issued on Feb. 13, Capito said, "What happened on January 6 threatened our foundational transfer of power and the actions were an embarrassment to our country and everything that we stand for. The actions and reactions of President Trump were disgraceful, and history will judge him harshly."

12) Sen. John Hoeven (ND)

Hoeven said in a statement after his vote to acquit, "President Trump should not have encouraged the protest on January 6, but those rioters who broke the law are responsible for their actions and we must condemn all those who engage in violence."

13) Sen. Jerry Moran (KS)

In a statement after he voted to acquit Trump, Moran said, "President Trump was wrong to continue to spread allegations of widespread fraud and not immediately discourage the reprehensible and unpatriotic behavior."

14) Sen. Rob Portman (OH)

Portman said in a statement issued Feb. 13, "I have said that what President Trump did that day was inexcusable because in his speech he encouraged the mob, and that he bears some responsibility for the tragic violence that occurred. I have also criticized his slow response as the mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, putting at risk the safety of Vice President Pence, law enforcement officers, and others who work in the Capitol. Even after the attack, some of the language in his tweets and in a video showed sympathy for the violent mob."

15) Sen. Dan Sullivan (AK)

Sullivan said in a statement issued Feb. 13, "Make no mistake: I condemn the horrific violence that engulfed the Capitol on January 6. I also condemn former President Trump's poor judgment in calling a rally on that day, and his actions and inactions when it turned into a riot."

16) Sen. Rand Paul (KY)

In an interview on Jan. 11, Paul said of Trump's actions before the riot, "I think it was irresponsible to encourage people with the false notion that the election could be overturned."

17) Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA)

In a statement issued Jan. 6, Grassley said, "Everyone must take responsibility for their destructive actions yesterday, including the president. As the leader of the nation, the president bears some responsibility for the actions that he inspires — good or bad. Sadly, yesterday he displayed poor leadership in his words and actions, and he must take responsibility."

18) Sen. Joni Ernst (IA)

Ernst said in a statement after attack on the Capitol, "The president did not display good leadership, and I do think he bears some responsibility for what happened. The responsibility also lies with the violent mob who stormed the Capitol, and they should be held accountable to the full extent of the law."

19) Sen. Richard Shelby (AL)

According to the Associated Press, Shelby told reporters during the impeachment trial that he thought impeachment managers had a "strong case" that Trump should have done more to stop the riots.

20) Sen. Tom Cotton (AR)

Cotton said in a statement on Jan. 6, "It's past time for the president to accept the results of the election, quit misleading the American people, and repudiate mob violence."

21) Sen. Mike Lee (UT)

After voting to acquit on Feb. 13, Lee said in a statement, "No one can condone the horrific violence that occurred on January 6, 2021–or President Trump's words, actions, and omissions on that day. I certainly do not."

22) Sen. Thom Tillis (NC)

In a statement issued after he voted to acquit, Tillis said, "The most serious aspect of President Trump's conduct was not necessarily what he said in the lead-up to the attack of the Capitol, but the leadership he failed to provide to put an end to it, and yet the House curiously chose not to file a charge or build their case around this point.

"It is important to note that a not guilty verdict is not the same as being declared innocent. President Trump is most certainly not the victim here; his words and actions were reckless and he shares responsibility for the disgrace that occurred on January 6."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.