Illinois lawmakers react harshly to Trump's acquittal

  • In this image from video, the final vote total of 57-43 to acquit former President Donald Trump of the impeachment charge, incitement of insurrection, appears in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Saturday.

    In this image from video, the final vote total of 57-43 to acquit former President Donald Trump of the impeachment charge, incitement of insurrection, appears in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Saturday. Senate Television via AP

 
 
Updated 2/14/2021 8:58 AM

Reaction from Illinois' largely Democratic congressional delegation to former President Donald Trump's acquittal Saturday by the U.S. Senate was harsh.

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, a Chicago Democrat whose 5th District includes parts of Elmhurst, Oakbrook Terrace and other suburbs, called the decision "a miscarriage of justice and an affront to the Constitution."

 

"If inciting a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol, to pursue the vice president with the intention of hanging him on the Capitol lawn, and to murder a Capitol police officer and injure hundreds more is not worthy of conviction, then what is?" Quigley said in a news release.

Trump had been impeached by the U.S. House on a single charge of inciting insurrection. The charge stemmed from the deadly Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol.

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Channahon, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump last month, said he was disappointed the Senate didn't hold Trump accountable for his actions.

"Make no mistake, the damage being done to the state of our republic and the democratic values we hold dear is unacceptable," Kinzinger, whose 16th District includes some far suburbs, said in a statement to the media.

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U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, a Deerfield Democrat whose 10th District includes part of the North and Northwest suburbs, tweeted that Americans seeking justice and accountability were let down by Republicans "unwilling or incapable of standing up to a president who inspired an attack on our Constitution and our democratic republic."

"While not a surprise, it is still disappointing and a stain on our nation's history," Schneider said. "We will not forget."

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Evanston Democrat whose 9th District includes the North Shore before swinging west to parts of Des Plaines, Mount Prospect and Arlington Heights, said the 57 senators who voted to convict Trump "stood up for our democracy and our constitution."

"Unfortunately, 43 cowards in the Senate blessed the actions of the Trump-inspired mob that put their very lives, and the lives of their colleagues, staff and that of Vice President Pence, in danger that day," she said in a statement.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Schakowsky also lambasted Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. After the vote to acquit Trump, the Kentucky Republican said he held Trump "morally responsible" for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol but said he voted to acquit him at the impeachment trial because he believes the Senate had no jurisdiction over a former president.

"It is even more pathetic that Minority Leader McConnell refused to accept the Articles of Impeachment while Trump was still in office, and then today used that as an excuse in his vote to acquit, before going on the floor to concede the House Impeachment Managers won on the facts," Schakowsky said.

U.S. Rep Sean Casten, a Downers Grove Democrat whose 6th District includes Palatine, Wheaton and Barrington, tweeted Saturday that he is "obviously disappointed."

"Disappointed in 43 senators who found it easier to do what they knew was wrong than to embrace what is right," he wrote.

Casten then went on to quote Benjamin Franklin.

"'Wrong is always growing more wrong until there is no bearing it anymore, and right, however opposed, comes right at last,'" Casten said. "Right will come at last... But only if we collectively remain vigilant in defense of this 244 year experiment."

U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat whose 8th District includes Elgin, Schaumburg and parts of Arlington Heights, said in a statement that while a bipartisan majority of the Senate voted to convict the former president, "today provided the dark realization that forty-three members of the Senate are more afraid of Donald Trump than they are of failing to fulfill their duties to the government of the people against which he sent a violent mob."

It fell to the Senate this week to acquit or convict Trump -- and a two-thirds vote was required for conviction. That verdict was unlikely, however, given the Senate's 50-50 partisan split and the unwillingness of most Republican senators to go against Trump.

Seven Republican senators joined the 50 Democrats to convict, but it wasn't enough.

As was the case with other members of the Chicago-area delegation, the decision didn't sit well with U.S. Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville, a Democrat serving the 11th District.

"Donald Trump occupies an uniquely disgraceful place in American history as the only president impeached twice, but the congressional Republicans who've refused to hold him accountable for his actions occupy an equally shameful place in history," Foster tweeted shortly after Saturday's vote. "They should be judged harshly for the damage they've done to our democracy."

Both of Illinois' senators -- Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates and Dick Durbin of Springfield -- voted to convict.

After the acquittal, Durbin tweeted that the House managers prosecuting the case "laid out an overwhelming case."

"They had the facts, the law, the Constitution and compelling evidence on their side," Durbin said.

Duckworth's reaction was much angrier. She criticized those Republicans who viewed trying a former president for actions performed while in office as unconstitutional.

"They desecrate the democracy that so many patriots -- including members of my own family -- have sacrificed for, just to protect the legacy of a man who has only ever truly pledged allegiance to himself," Duckworth said.

"History will not look kindly on their votes to defend a wannabe tin-pot dictator," she added, "or their willingness to further imperil our notion of a government of the people, by the people and for the people."

• Daily Herald correspondent Mary Chappell contributed to this report.

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