Mitch McConnell Reportedly Pleased With Impeachment, Could Open Doors to GOP to Convict

Amid an increasingly fractured relationship with Donald Trump, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could ultimately pave the way for the president's impeachment conviction.

McConnell was reportedly supportive of House Democrats' successful impeachment effort—the first time a president has ever been impeached twice—signaling to other GOP senators that they can vote against Trump in a trial over his role in last week's deadly riot at the Capitol.

Multiple news outlets reported McConnell's acceptance of impeachment, citing unnamed sources, on Wednesday. McConnell later sent a letter to colleagues saying he has not decided and will determine how he will vote after listening to evidence in the Senate trial.

After the House voted to impeach, McConnell released a statement saying he thinks that the next week should be focused on security and he won't take up the impeachment in the Senate before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

"I believe it will best serve our nation if Congress and the executive branch spend the next seven days completely focused on facilitating a safe inauguration and orderly transfer of power to the incoming Biden administration," McConnell said, without indicating how he might vote.

A conviction would require 67 votes in the Senate, necessitating support from some Republicans. McConnell's backing could prompt more Republicans to break with president at the trial.

Shortly before the Capitol riot broke out last week, McConnell condemned Trump's push to override states' election results.

"If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral," McConnell said, speaking from the Senate floor. "We'd never see the whole nation accept an election again. Every four years would bring a scramble for power at any cost."

For much of the past four years, McConnell had been loyal to Trump, helping him get hundreds of judicial nominees approved and blocking Democratic policy priorities from the House.

But McConnell, who has been in the Senate for nearly four decades, rebuked Trump last week after the president's supporters left a rally where he spoke and stormed the Capitol. The assault forced Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers to be taken to safe rooms.

The House fast-tracked Trump's impeachment on a charge of inciting the riot, but the Senate isn't scheduled to meet again until Tuesday. With that tight timeline, it's unlikely that a Senate trial would take place before Trump leaves office and Democrats take control of the chamber on January 20.

Ten Republicans in the House voted for impeachment, including Representative Liz Cheney, the chair of the House Republican Conference, who is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Cheney's announcement prompted pushback from some of Trump's staunch allies, who are now calling for her ouster from the leadership post.

Trump, who has been removed from Twitter since his supporters stormed the Capitol, remains politically popular among a broad GOP base.

As the impeachment debate unfolded on the House floor Wednesday, the White House released a statement from the president condemning threats of possible violence ahead of Biden's inauguration.

"That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for," Trump said in the statement. "I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers."

Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol on October 6, 2018. This week, multiple news outlets reported McConnell's acceptance of President Donald Trump's second impeachment in the House. Chip Somodevilla/Getty