WASHINGTON — The lead House impeachment manager, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., criticized Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday for "trying to have it both ways" by voting to acquit former President Donald Trump on a charge that he incited last month's attack on the U.S. Capitol, arguing that history will deem Trump responsible nonetheless.
In an interview on NBC News' "Meet the Press," Raskin called the impeachment trial a "dramatic success in historical terms," noting that it was the most bipartisan impeachment conviction vote in American history.
"We successfully prosecuted him and convicted him in the court of public opinion and the court of history," Raskin said.
"He's obviously a major political problem for the Republican Party, and as long as he's out there attempting to wage war on American constitutional democracy, he's a problem for all of us."
Prosecuting the case against Trump last week, Raskin and other impeachment managers argued that he incited his supporters' attack on the Capitol by spreading debunked conspiracy theories claiming that the presidential election was stolen from him, in effect greenlighting the attack through his rhetoric.
Fifty-seven senators, including seven Republicans, voted against Trump, 10 short of the 67 needed to convict him. The seven were Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, voted to acquit Trump. But in a scathing speech on the Senate floor just after the vote, McConnell said Trump was "practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day" while also arguing that he believed the trial was unconstitutional because Trump was no longer in office.
"This body is not invited to act as the nation's overarching moral tribunal. We are not free to work backward from whether the accused party might personally deserve some kind of punishment," McConnell said. "But this just underscores that impeachment was never meant to be the final forum for American justice."
Raskin questioned how McConnell could feel that way and not vote to convict Trump.
"I would have liked to have had him on the impeachment managers' team based on the way he presented that, except then he went back to the completely counterfeit argument that the Senate could not conduct the trial," Raskin said. "They decided to hang their hat on that very dubious hook in order to, basically, cater to Trump and the forces within the party that are still loyal to him in a really cultish and dangerous way."
Raskin addressed questions about the impeachment managers' strategy, particularly about a last-minute reversal on whether to call witnesses and about whether more Republicans might have been persuaded to support a more narrowly tailored impeachment article.
He declared that he had "no regrets" and said he believed many Republicans were always going to "find some reason" to side with Trump despite the "mountain of unrefuted evidence."
"You can always come up with a lawyer's argument to get to where you want to go. And they did not honestly confront the reality of what happened to America, which was Donald Trump incited a violent mob to attack the Congress of the United States," he said.
"So, you know what? We have no regrets at all," he said. "We left it totally out there on the floor of the U.S. Senate, and every senator knew exactly what happened."