Mitch McConnell, the Republican Majority Leader in the Senate, held open the possibility that he would vote to convict Donald Trump in an impeachment trial, pointing to the growing division in the president’s party over his responsibility for the Attack on the US Capitol.
“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 in the Senate,” McConnell said just before the House of Representatives vote to impeach Mr. Trump for a unprecedented second time.
The Kentucky senator has clashed privately with Mr. Trump for the past four years, but rarely berated him in public. His statement highlighted the conundrum the Republican Party faces as big business. signal that they will no longer donate to lawmakers who backed the baseless allegations of election fraud that ignited pro-Trump rioters on Jan.6.
Ten Republicans have joined all Democratic members of the House in supporting the motion to impeach Mr. Trump for inciting insurgency in connection with the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The small group of Republicans rebelling against the president was led by Liz cheney, the third House Republican and potential future presidential candidate, who said the president had “lit the flame” for the attack.
She has been condemned by some colleagues, including Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, who called on the party to remove her from her leadership role.
Mr Jordan, who hails from the pro-Trump die-hard wing of the Grand Old Party, said Ms Cheney was “totally wrong” in voting for impeachment. Ms. Cheney fended off criticism, saying she was “going nowhere.”
“It’s a vote of conscience. This is one of the points of view of our conference. But our nation is facing a constitutional crisis unprecedented since the civil war, ”Ms. Cheney told reporters.
In addition to concerns about the impact on their fundraising, Republican House and Senate leaders need to think about how they balance any criticism of the president with the need to avoid angering his supporters, who will play an important role in the primary races that will determine which candidates run for office. mid-term of Congress in 2022..
The New York Times reported that Mr. McConnell is happy Democrats are impeaching Mr. Trump as it would help purge him of the party. A person familiar with his thinking said Mr McConnell had not made this point to some of his close Republican colleagues.
Ahead of the vote, Kevin McCarthy, the Republican minority leader who has been a fierce ally of the president, said Mr. Trump should be censored, but said the impeachment would only further fuel polarization in the States- United.
Doug Heye, former senior aide to the House Republican leadership, said Mr Trump first started civil war within the Republican Party when he ran for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016 .
“Trump was the first big blow in a GOP civil war. Trump is as much a symptom as a cause. He could only enter a party that was split up, ”Heye said. “It’s clearly going to get worse before it gets better. To overcome this, we’re going to have to go through this.
While only 10 House Republicans voted to impeach Mr. Trump, the split was significant as no Republican voted against him during his first indictment a year ago for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
A new Politico / Morning Consult poll showed Mr. Trump’s approval rating was at an all-time low, with 34% of voters approving the work he was doing. However, the president remained the first choice of Republican voters to be the GOP presidential candidate in 2024, according to the survey.
Forty-two percent of Republican voters said they would vote for Mr. Trump in the next GOP presidential primary, up from 54 percent on the same question in November.
the impeachment movement in the House will be followed by a Senate trial, the timing of which will depend on when Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the Democratic House, sends the impeachment article to the Senate.
Mr McConnell has signaled that he will not reconvene the Senate until Tuesday next week, a day before Joe Biden’s inauguration. This could set the stage for an impeachment trial in the early days of the Biden administration.
Some Democrats are concerned that holding a trial after Mr Biden takes office will hamper Senate efforts to confirm his cabinet candidates.
Democrats, who will take control of the Senate on January 20, need a significant number of Republican senators to drop the president in the trial to achieve the two-thirds majority required to convict Mr. Trump.