facebook linkedin twitter

McConnell Open to Convicting Trump in Impeachment Trial

January 14, 2021by Alan Fram and Andrew Taylor, Associated Press
Congress Electoral College

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pointedly did not rule out that he might eventually vote to convict the now twice-impeached President Donald Trump, but he also blocked a quick Senate impeachment trial.

Minutes after the House voted 232-197 on Wednesday to impeach Trump, McConnell said in a letter to his GOP colleagues that he’s not determined whether Trump should be convicted in the Senate’s upcoming proceedings. The House impeachment articles charge that Trump incited insurrection by exhorting supporters who violently attacked the Capitol last week, resulting in five deaths and a disruption of Congress.

“I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” McConnell wrote.

McConnell’s openness was a stark contrast to the support, or at times silence, he’s shown during much of Trump’s presidency, and to the opposition he expressed rapidly when the House impeached Trump 13 months ago. McConnell will be Washington’s most powerful Republican once Democratic President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated, and McConnell’s increasingly chilly view of Trump could make it easier for other GOP lawmakers to turn against him.

McConnell’s burgeoning alienation from Trump, plus the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him, underscored how the GOP’s long, reflexive support and condoning of Trump’s actions was eroding.

McConnell also issued a statement saying Congress and the government should spend the next week “completely focused on facilitating a safe inauguration and an orderly transfer of power” to Biden. He suggested Trump’s Senate trial would begin no earlier than Jan. 19 — in effect rejecting a drive by the chamber’s Democrats to begin the proceedings immediately so Trump could be ousted from office.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said that unless McConnell reverses himself and agrees to quickly start the trial, it would begin after Jan. 19. That’s a day before Biden is inaugurated as president and about the time Democrats take over majority control of the Senate. The timetable essentially means McConnell is dropping the trial into Democrats’ laps.

“Make no mistake, there will be an impeachment trial in the United States Senate,” Schumer said. He added, “If the president is convicted, there will be a vote on barring him from running again.”

The Constitution requires a two-thirds majority to convict a president, meaning at least 17 Republicans would need to join all 50 Democrats to oust Trump. If Trump were convicted, it would take only a simple majority of the Senate to prohibit Trump, who’s mentioned running again in 2024, from holding federal office again.

Earlier Wednesday, a GOP strategist said McConnell has told people he thinks Trump perpetrated impeachable offenses. McConnell also saw House Democrats’ drive to impeach Trump as an opportune moment to distance the GOP from the tumultuous, divisive outgoing president, according to the strategist, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.

McConnell’s views were first reported by The New York Times.

McConnell spoke to major Republican donors last weekend to assess their thinking about Trump and was told that they believed Trump had clearly crossed a line, the strategist said. McConnell told them he was finished with Trump, according to the consultant.

The Democratic-led House approved an impeachment article accusing Trump of inciting insurrection, an unprecedented second impeachment of his clamorous presidency. Trump exhorted a throng of his followers to march on the Capitol last Wednesday, where they disrupted Congress’ formal certification of Biden’s win in a deadly riot that produced widespread damage.

McConnell is looking out for his party’s long-term future, but moving toward a political divorce from Trump could mean that congressional Republicans will face challenges in GOP primaries.

It is unclear how many Republicans would vote to convict Trump in a Senate trial, but it appears plausible that several would.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, on Wednesday told Alaska’s News Source, an Anchorage news outlet, that Trump “has committed an impeachable offense.” She stopped short of saying if she’d vote to convict him.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., has said he would “definitely consider” House impeachment articles.

Complicating GOP thinking about Trump’s second impeachment is that Republicans will be defending 20 of the 34 Senate seats up for election in 2022. Thanks to Democratic victories this month in two Georgia runoffs, Democrats are about to take control of the chamber by 50-50, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris casting tie-breaking votes.

Speaking out against impeachment Wednesday was Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. A once-bitter Trump foe, Graham became one of his closest allies during his presidency, then lambasted him over last week’s Capitol invasion but has since spent time with Trump.

Impeaching Trump now would “do great damage to the institutions of government and could invite further violence,” Graham said in a statement. He said Trump’s millions of backers “should not be demonized because of the despicable actions of a seditious mob,” but he did not specifically defend Trump’s actions last week.

“If there was a time for America’s political leaders to bend a knee and ask for God’s counsel and guidance, it is now. The most important thing for leaders to do in times of crisis is to make things better, not worse,” Graham said.

When the Senate voted against removing Trump in February after the House impeached him for pressuring Ukraine to provide political dirt on Biden, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, was the only Republican who cast a vote to oust him.

Trump has falsely insisted that November’s presidential election was stolen from him by fraud. Those allegations have been rejected by state officials of both parties, state and federal courts and members of his own administration.

___

AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

U.S. Senate

Senate Avoids a US Debt Disaster, Votes to Extend Borrowing

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has dodged a U.S. debt disaster, voting to extend the government's borrowing authority into December... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has dodged a U.S. debt disaster, voting to extend the government's borrowing authority into December and temporarily avert an unprecedented federal default that experts warned would devastate the economy and harm millions of Americans. The party-line Democratic vote of 50-48 in... Read More

October 7, 2021
by Dan McCue
Accord Reached on Raising the Nation’s Debt Limit

WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats have taken Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., up on an offer that will temporarily end... Read More

WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats have taken Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., up on an offer that will temporarily end a political standoff over raising the nation’s debt ceiling by allowing an emergency extension into early December. “We have reached an agreement,” Senate Majority Leader Charles... Read More

October 6, 2021
by Dan McCue
McConnell Makes New Offer On Debt Ceiling

WASHINGTON -- Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. made a new offer to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., on... Read More

WASHINGTON -- Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. made a new offer to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., on resolving the current Senate impasse over raising the nation’s debt limit. The immediate effect of the offer was for Senate Democrats to delay a vote Wednesday... Read More

Biden: Senate Filibuster Change on Debt a 'Real Possibility'

WASHINGTON (AP) — To get around Republican obstruction, President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Democrats are considering a change to... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — To get around Republican obstruction, President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Democrats are considering a change to the Senate's filibuster rules in order to quickly approve lifting the nation's debt limit  and avoid what would be a devastating credit default. The president's surprise... Read More

October 5, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck
Senate Judiciary Committee Scrutinizes Abusive Conservatorships

Nicholas Clouse, a 28-year-old from Huntington, Indiana, suffered a traumatic brain injury from an automobile accident in 2011, that led... Read More

Nicholas Clouse, a 28-year-old from Huntington, Indiana, suffered a traumatic brain injury from an automobile accident in 2011, that led to his parents obtaining full guardianship over him.  “On the rationale that someone might take advantage of me if I were to receive a large sum... Read More

Biden Can't Budge Fellow Dems With Big Overhaul at Stake

WASHINGTON (AP) — His government overhaul plans at stake, President Joe Biden appeared unable to swiftly strike agreement with two... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — His government overhaul plans at stake, President Joe Biden appeared unable to swiftly strike agreement with two wavering Democratic senators trying to trim back his potentially historic $3.5 trillion measure that will collapse without their support. With Republicans solidly opposed and no Democratic... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top