All of this was compounded by Mr. Trump’s failure to act with dispatch to call off the rioters once he heard what was happening. Mr. Trump’s defenders blame Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the District of Columbia government for lack of preparedness, which is fair enough. Some of the riot leaders may also have pre-planned the assault, and there is much police still haven’t disclosed.
But none of that absolves Mr. Trump for refusing for hours to ask his supporters to stand down. Mr. Trump’s Jan. 6 early-afternoon comments to House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy dismissing a plea to call off the rioters, as related second-hand by GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, are further evidence of Mr. Trump’s dereliction. As Mr. McConnell also noted, Senate acquittal does not absolve Mr. Trump of potential criminal or civil liability for actions he took in office.
As for the seven GOP Senators who voted to convict, they deserve respect for their independent judgment. As Edmund Burke famously explained to the Bristol electors in 1774, “It is his duty [as a Member of Parliament] to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But his unbiassed opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living.”