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Politics McConnell breaks with Trump, says he’ll consider convicting him in Senate trial

07:55  14 january  2021
07:55  14 january  2021 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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McConnell breaks with Trump , says he ’ ll consider convicting him in Senate trial . Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), center, is seen McConnell also pressed pause on an impeachment trial that would occur before Trump leaves the White House on Jan. 20, slowing the rapid momentum

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell , R-Ky., told his GOP colleagues in a note Wednesday afternoon that he remains undecided whether he ' ll vote to convict President McConnell said in a statement after the vote that there would be no way to conclude a Senate trial before President-elect

The bipartisan impeachment vote in the House against President Trump on Wednesday set up a politically explosive reckoning for Senate Republicans, who spent four years enabling Trump’s behavior but in the wake of last week’s Capitol riot are grappling with how — or whether — to punish him with just seven days left in office.

The most striking position came from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who said Wednesday that he will consider convicting Trump on inciting the attempted insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 — a remarkable break between the two men who worked in lockstep for four years, even as the majority leader continually deflected questions about Trump’s untoward conduct and rhetoric.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Republican senators he’s reached no decision on whether he ’ ll vote to convict President Donald Trump on the House’s impeachment charge, and he doesn’t plan to call an McConnell Says Senate Should Focus on Inauguration Before Trial .

Trump ultra-loyalist Jim Jordan says he will try to oust Liz Cheney from her position as party's For now, the Republican-led Senate is not expected to hold a trial and vote on whether to convict The article says the behavior is consistent with Trump 's prior efforts to 'subvert and obstruct' the results

It was also a dramatic shift from his position during Trump’s first impeachment a year ago, when he publicly stressed that he was “not an impartial juror” and privately worked in concert with White House officials to map out the president’s eventual acquittal in the Senate.

[Read: Article of impeachment against President Trump]

“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 said in a message to his colleagues, an excerpt of which was released by his office.

McConnell also pressed pause on an impeachment trial that would occur before Trump leaves the White House on Jan. 20, slowing the rapid momentum and furor that snowballed in Congress as the scale and potential catastrophe of the Jan. 6 siege continued to sharpen.

Are There Enough Senate Republican Votes to Convict Trump?

  Are There Enough Senate Republican Votes to Convict Trump? With the MAGA base still strong and plenty of excuses for Republicans to say no, conviction faces steep odds.It’s worth taking a closer look at how many Republican senators might reasonably be expected to throw Trump into the dustbin of history. Seventeen GOP senators would have to break ranks to convict him on the “incitement to insurrection” impeachment article, assuming Democrats stick together (and that’s not certain given Joe Manchin’s comments suggesting it’s unnecessary and an obstacle to future bipartisanship). After conviction, only a simple majority would be needed to prohibit Trump from holding future office.

“ He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love,” she said , adding later, “It gives me no pleasure to say this — it breaks Republicans were split over the impending charge, with up to a dozen or more expected to back vote to impeach and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky

After the House impeachment vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it would be best for the country if a Senate trial were held after Trump leaves Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled in a letter to his colleagues Wednesday that he has not ruled out voting to convict President

Even with McConnell’s position giving senators cover on a conviction, multiple senior GOP officials said it was too early to determine whether a critical mass of Senate Republicans would vote to punish Trump for his role in inciting a violent mob of his supporters to storm and rampage the Capitol, leaving five people dead.

To convict Trump, 17 of the 50 Republicans in the new Senate would have to join the chamber’s 50 Democrats to meet the necessary two-thirds threshold. While a few GOP senators are now considered likely to oppose Trump, others across the spectrum of the party would face enormous pressure to abandon their years-long support of him and publicly rebuke him. Twenty GOP-held seats are on the ballot in 2022.

Most Republican senators have not expressed a public position on impeachment, leaving colleagues and others to try to parse their words for any hint of how they might feel. Some have directly criticized Trump for his role in inciting the riot, including Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, who said Trump “bears responsibility” for the mayhem, and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who made similar comments.

Mitch McConnell’s Teetering Power

  Mitch McConnell’s Teetering Power What happens when Republicans stop listening to their own Senate majority leader?A pair of runoff elections in Georgia tomorrow could end the Kentucky Republican’s six-year reign as majority leader, and on Wednesday, he’ll have to watch as nearly a quarter of his members challenge the clear results of the presidential election in defiance of McConnell’s explicit wishes. Democrats and Republicans alike have warned that the effort, led by Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, while doomed to fail, is a worrisome sign of a fraying commitment to democracy among a significant portion of the GOP.

The Senate GOP Leader reportedly declined his colleagues' calls to convene promptly for an impeachment trial on Wednesday. The spokesperson said McConnell 's aides informed staff at Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's office of the decision, according to the Associated Press.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that he believes that impeaching President Donald Trump will make it easier to get rid of the Several GOP sources said on Tuesday that if McConnell supports conviction , Trump almost certainly will be convicted by 67 senators in the

If two-thirds of the Senate convicted Trump, a second vote would determine whether he would be barred from ever seeking federal office again. A simple majority would determine that outcome.

Given the parameters that guide Senate impeachment proceedings of a president, McConnell said Wednesday that Trump had “simply no chance” of a “fair or serious trial” before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in. His office informed aides to Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) earlier Wednesday that he would not agree to immediately reconvene the Senate this week, according to a person familiar with the matter, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss internal GOP dynamics, despite pressure from Schumer to invoke rarely used emergency powers that allow the two Senate leaders to unilaterally reconvene.

“Even if the Senate process were to begin this week and move promptly, no final verdict would be reached until after President Trump had left office,” McConnell said in a statement after the House impeached Trump on a bipartisan, 232-to-197 vote. “This is not a decision I am making; it is a fact.”

McConnell Holds Trump’s Fate as Impeachment Heads to Senate

  McConnell Holds Trump’s Fate as Impeachment Heads to Senate President Donald Trump’s unprecedented second impeachment heads to the Senate, where his fate rests with Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who now has more leverage than ever over the president in his final week in office.McConnell told Republican colleagues in a letter Wednesday he would block starting an impeachment trial before Joe Biden takes office Jan. 20 and control of the Senate shifts to Democrats. But he also said he has not yet made up his mind on whether to vote to convict Trump of inciting an insurrection that left five dead and damaged the Capitol, including the Senate chamber where he has spent much of the past 36 years.

McConnell is poised to remain majority leader until at least Jan. 22, when election results from the two Senate runoff races in Georgia will be certified and Democratic Sens.-elect Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff will be eligible to be sworn in. McConnell and Schumer could jointly work out the rules that would govern Trump’s second impeachment trial, although once Democrats formally take the majority, Schumer and his ranks could formalize a rules package on a party-line vote.

It's also unclear who would preside during a Senate impeachment trial of a former president. A Supreme Court spokeswoman declined to comment Wednesday about whether Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has been in contact with Senate leaders about any Senate proceedings, and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), in her role as president of the Senate, could conceivably preside.

With no apparent effort on McConnell’s part as of now to actively persuade or dissuade his colleagues on an impeachment vote, it was unclear how much political cover his position would provide — particularly as various Republican senators navigate their own personal home-state political dynamics as they weigh a Trump conviction.

For nearly 24 hours, the outgoing majority leader had remained quiet to other GOP senators — even those seen as some of his closest lieutenants — on reports that he was pleased with the House’s move to rapidly impeach Trump and was leaning in favor of convicting him, according to Republican officials.

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That silence, people familiar with the matter said, frustrated some Senate Republicans who were seeking guidance or at least some insight into the majority leader’s thinking on what would be an unprecedented second impeachment trial of a U.S. president.

While other increasingly vocal critics of the president emphasized that they, too, were open to conviction, allies of Trump within the Senate Republican Conference continued to line up in his defense — deepening a rift among GOP senators that began as Trump falsely amplified baseless claims about widespread voter fraud in the presidential election that he lost.

Trump will almost certainly face a bigger rebuke than just the one Senate Republican — Mitt Romney of Utah — who voted to convict him last February. But the views of other GOP senators who flocked to Trump’s defense Wednesday underscored just how difficult it appeared to be as of now for 17 Republicans to ultimately decide to find him guilty of inciting an insurrection.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said Wednesday after the House impeachment vote that for the past week, “it’s been obvious that the President was derelict in his duty to defend the Constitution and uphold the rule of law.”

“Everything that we’re dealing with here — the riot, the loss of life, the impeachment, and now the fact that the U.S. Capitol has been turned into a barracks for federal troops for the first time since the Civil War — is the result of a particular lie,” Sasse said.

He added that while he would not weigh in on the merits of impeachment because he is a juror, “President Trump has consistently lied by claiming that he ‘won the election by a landslide,’ and by promoting fanciful conspiracy theories about dozens of topics and people connected to the Nov. 3 election.”

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Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), who has emerged as one of the president’s fiercest critics since Trump lost reelection to Biden in November, said he continues to believe the outgoing president should immediately resign and, like McConnell, made clear he was also weighing a conviction.

“Whether or not the Senate has the constitutional authority to hold an impeachment trial for a president that is no longer in office is debatable,” said Toomey, who plans to retire after his term. “Should the Senate conduct a trial, I will again fulfill my responsibility to consider arguments from both the House managers and President Trump’s lawyers.”

But a faction of the GOP conference continued to line up behind Trump, contending that a fraught impeachment fight would only be divisive and risk antagonizing supporters of the president who will still retain backing from a significant part of the party’s base.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who had remained an ardent Trump ally despite the turbulence of last week, reiterated that he opposes impeachment and said in a veiled reference to McConnell that “as to Senate leadership, I fear they are making the problem worse, not better.”

“To my Republican colleagues who legitimize this process, you are doing great damage not only to the country, the future of the presidency, but also to the party,” Graham said. “The millions who have supported President Trump and his agenda should not be demonized because of the despicable actions of a seditious mob.”

In private, some GOP senators questioned Democrats’ level of commitment in impeaching Trump, pointing to comments made by Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), the third-ranking House Democrat, that suggested the House could simply hold off sending the article of impeachment to the Senate to delay a trial and free up floor time for members of Biden’s Cabinet to be confirmed.

Fact check: Social media falsely claims Vice President Mike Pence was arrested

  Fact check: Social media falsely claims Vice President Mike Pence was arrested After rioters breached the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, social media posts claimed Vice President Mike Pence had been arrested. That is false.Vice President Mike Pence was also at the Capitol to preside over the proceedings. Shortly after rioters breached the Capitol, Phil Godlewski took to Facebook to claim that Pence had been arrested.

In McConnell’s message to senators Wednesday, obtained by The Washington Post, he acknowledged that he did not know when the House will transmit the articles to the Senate, though McConnell added that it could be shortly after it is adopted.

Still, House Democrats want the Senate to act “as soon as possible,” House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said, signaling that the impeachment article was likely to be transmitted without delay. In a statement, Schumer promised that Trump will get a “fair trial” but added that Trump’s conduct “cannot and must not be tolerated, excused, or go unpunished.”

Some Senate Republicans were also concerned that House Democrats were setting a precedent for a rushed impeachment of future presidents, according to people familiar with the conversations.

“The House impeachment process seeks to legitimize a snap impeachment totally void of due process,” Graham said. “No hearings. No witnesses. It is a rushed process that, over time, will become a threat to future presidents.”

Erica Werner and Robert Barnes contributed to this report.

a group of people standing next to a person in a suit and tie: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) walks over to a joint session of Congress to count the electoral votes on Jan. 6 at the Capitol in Washington. © Oliver Contreras/For The Washington Post Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) walks over to a joint session of Congress to count the electoral votes on Jan. 6 at the Capitol in Washington.

Fact check: Social media falsely claims Vice President Mike Pence was arrested .
After rioters breached the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, social media posts claimed Vice President Mike Pence had been arrested. That is false.Vice President Mike Pence was also at the Capitol to preside over the proceedings. Shortly after rioters breached the Capitol, Phil Godlewski took to Facebook to claim that Pence had been arrested.

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