Will Mitch McConnell be Donald Trump’s judge, jury and executioner?
Influential Republican senator gives nod to his party over impeachment proceedings
Influential Republican senator Mitch McConnell may back efforts to impeach Donald Trump after telling associates that he believes the president committed impeachable offences in relation to riots on Capitol Hill last week, according to reports.
McConnell also believes impeachment proceedings will make it easier to “purge” Trump from the Republican party, The New York Times (NYT) reports, ahead of a vote in the House of Representatives today on whether to formally charge the president with inciting violence against the country.
The senate majority leader, who was a major stumbling block in efforts to impeach Trump in 2020, “has made clear in private discussions that he believes now is the moment to move on from the weakened lame duck” and blames the outgoing president for the Republicans losing control of the upper house, the paper adds.
Relations between McConnell and Trump worsened in mid-December, when having held out on backing the result of the November vote, the senator told the president that he would recognise Biden as president-elect. It is understood they have not spoken since.
However, relations between the two were always pragmatic, with “the wily Kentuckian and the brash political outsider from New York adopt[ing] a mutually beneficial embrace”, The Times reports. That “marriage of convenience is ending in raw acrimony” with McConnell signalling his support for impeaching proceedings, the paper adds.
McConnell’s private acknowledgment that the president has committed impeachable offences is “the moment the political sands shifted under the president’s feet”, The Telegraph says. A hugely powerful member of the senate and GOP, McConnell is a “quietly spoken individual, but when he strikes he is lethal”.
Commentators have speculated that in allowing news of his position to reach the NYT, McConnell was sending a clear message to the Republican’s 211-strong caucus in the lower house that they are free to vote with the 222 Democrats to impeach.
Shortly after the NYT broke the story, Liz Cheney, the third most senior Republican in the House, declared her support for impeachment. And after McConnell gave his blessing, only 17 of the Republican’s 50 senators would need to vote with Democrats to convict the president, meaning his move could prove to be the pivotal moment that leads to Trump’s conviction.