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McConnell Says Presidents Should Not Be Immune From Criminal Prosecution

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has weighed in on former President Donald Trump’s claims of immunity from prosecution for official acts while in office following his attorney’s oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday.

That said, McConnell reiterated to “Meet the Press” moderator Kristen Welker that he stands by his acquittal vote and stands by the remarks he made in 2021 when he voted against convicting Trump in a Senate trial following Trump’s impeachment by the House on charges connected to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, NBC News reported.

“President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office … He didn’t get away with anything, yet,” McConnell said in 2021, adding, “We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being [held] accountable by either one.”

“That’s [still] my view,” McConnell said Thursday. “But my view is only my view. I mean, the court is going to decide.”

Thursday’s Supreme Court proceedings revolve around federal charges accusing Trump of unlawfully interfering in the certification of the 2020 presidential election results. Trump contends he holds absolute immunity from prosecution for actions taken while serving as president. The court’s deliberations will determine the extent of presidential immunity.

“The president clearly needs some kind of immunity, or he’d be in court all the time,” McConnell noted, adding that he doesn’t think it should be absolute, as Trump has argued.

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“I’m not on the Supreme Court. I don’t get to make the final decision on that,” McConnell said.

In late March, several GOP senators said they were planning for a post-McConnell world after they had grown increasingly frustrated with how he’s done his job and are confident that the party’s next Senate leader will be better.

The senators told The Daily Caller that his walled-off, McConnell-centric style of leadership is no longer appropriate in today’s political climate, adding that most Republicans in the chamber believe they should work together.

McConnell revealed in late February his decision to relinquish his role as Senate Republican leader come November. The Kentuckian stated his intention to fulfill his term, concluding in January 2027, “albeit from a different seat in the chamber.”

Following McConnell’s announcement, two Republican senators, John Cornyn from Texas and John Thune from South Dakota, have declared their candidacy for the next Senate GOP Leader position. Meanwhile, Rick Scott, a Republican senator from Florida who previously challenged McConnell for the leadership role in 2020, is also reportedly considering running for the job, the Daily Caller added.

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson told the Caller that the anti-establishment wing of the party hasn’t settled on a candidate, but talks are ongoing.

“No, we’ve had discussions, but I’ll leave it at that. We were having discussions before Leader McConnell announced his intention there. I mean, I think I was surprised. I wasn’t expecting that. But, again, I appreciate the fact that he did give us that heads-up. So we have this time,” he said.

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“From my standpoint, I’ll sing the praises of Rick Scott. He’s shown leadership. It was his tenacity that continued to schedule meetings with House members, week after week after week, really got us by the debt ceiling impasse. I’m not sure he gets enough credit for that,” Johnson continued.

A source familiar with the situation told The Caller that McConnell has “weaponized” his leadership position both inside and outside the chamber, citing the Senate Leadership Fund and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).

“We want to de-weaponize the platform, the leadership platform. The leadership platform has been weaponized on the inside and outside. The outside political side of it has been weaponized. But the Senate Leadership Fund and to a degree, the NRSC, over which leader McConnell has wielded a significant amount of influence, some would say quite improperly,” the source said.

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