‘Mitch said to me he wants Trump gone.’
While Mitch McConnell is on record as open to casting a guilty vote in Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, and has reportedly told colleagues he believed Trump had committed impeachable offenses and was pleased House Democrats had pursued the matter, the quote above, attributed to an unnamed Republican lawmaker by CNN, could, if accurate, shift the calculus.
The impeachment article set to be transmitted to the Senate on Monday seeks to bar Trump from ever again holding public office.
In the House, where not a single Republican had voted to impeach Trump in late 2019 on charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress, the article of impeachment stemming from the pro-Trump riot of Jan. 6 that left five dead and halted for several hours congressional certification of the Nov. 3 presidential election’s result drew 10 Republicans across the aisle.
Former House Republican Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, who retired in 2018, reportedly told CNN there “were probably over 150 who supported it.”
Heading into Trump’s first impeachment trial a year ago, Jeff Flake, the former Republican senator from Arizona, similarly speculated that 35 Senate Republicans — two-thirds of the party caucus in the chamber at the time — would vote to convict and remove Trump, were votes cast anonymously. In the event, only Mitt Romney among the Senate Republicans voted to convict Trump.
McConnell, as of Wednesday the Senate minority leader, had suggested a delay of several weeks to allow Trump’s new legal team time for trial preparation, apparently reaching agreement with Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York, now the chamber’s majority leader, to begin the trial in the week of Feb. 8.
Schumer, in the days immediately following the Capitol insurrection that Trump stands accused of inciting, had sought to bring the Senate back into session under emergency powers with the goal of removing Trump from office before the end of his term, but McConnell, who remained majority leader until the Jan. 20 swearing-in of three Democrats, resisted.
President Joe Biden was inaugurated on Jan. 20.