Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) may have just made a mistake that could prove fatal to his political career.
The Hill reports that McConnell has made clear he isn’t ruling out the possibility of voting to convict President Donald Trump in his upcoming Senate impeachment trial.
The trial comes after the House voted 232–197 Wednesday afternoon to impeach Trump for a second time, this time on a single charge of “incitement” stemming from what they alleged was the president’s role in an attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of his supporters just a week prior, USA Today reported.
Ten Republicans sided with Democrats in the lower chamber, and with his indecisiveness, McConnell is spurring concerns among conservatives that the Senate GOP might also have a handful of defectors when it takes up the matter.
Of course, that won’t be until next week at the earliest; the Senate isn’t set to begin debate until a day before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, meaning Trump will likely already be out of office before a final decision is made.
No final decision
According to NBC News, it would take 17 Senate Republicans — and all of the upper chamber’s Democrats — to vote in favor of convicting Trump for the resolution to pass. Names floated as likely to cross that bridge include Republican Sens. Mitt Romney (UT), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Pat Toomey (ME).
Would McConnell join them?
According to The Hill, the Republican leader is leaving that door open.
“While the press has been full of speculation, 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 in a note to colleagues on Wednesday, as The Hill reported.
A look ahead
The senator’s remarks came after an article in The New York Times claimed McConnell had “told associates that he believes President Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he is pleased that Democrats are moving to impeach him” because that would “make it easier to purge him from the party.”
Notably, McConnell didn’t explicitly dispute this reporting in his Wednesday note.
But a vote to impeach could be costly for Republicans hoping to keep their spots in the upper chamber; according to Breitbart, a recent poll indicated that as many as 76% of GOP voters say they would be less likely to cast their ballot in the future for a member of Congress who voted to impeach Trump. Will that have an impact on what the senators decide? Only time will tell.