In late 2019, when House Democrats were busily impeaching President Trump the first time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was among his biggest defenders. Accusing the Democrats of taking the country through a divisive, dead-end process for purely partisan reasons, he expended significant political capital in ensuring that Trump received a quick-and-decisive trial in the Senate. That trial, of course, ended in Trump’s acquittal…just as everyone knew that it would.
This time around, reports suggest that McConnell is not nearly as interested in defending the president.
From The Hill:
Senate Republican sources say they do not expect Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to reprise his role as one of President Trump’s principal defenders in a future Senate impeachment trial.
A Republican official said McConnell has made it clear to his allies that he’s done defending Trump and that the Senate GOP leader hasn’t spoken to the president since December.
McConnell had given a speech sharply breaking with Trump over the election — which the GOP leader tellingly said had not been that close — moments before the Capitol was overtaken by a mob. Aides and police later had to help McConnell, 78, as he and other senators were evacuated.
“He’s genuinely furious about what happened last week and what led up to it,” the GOP source said of McConnell’s anger over the storming of the Capitol.
The New York Times on Tuesday afternoon published a story that said McConnell has told associates that he believes Trump committed impeachable offenses.
Indeed, that Times article referenced at the end actually reported that McConnell was “pleased” about impeachment this time around because it could help the Republican Party move past Trump altogether.
Unlike the first impeachment, Democrats have a certain amount of Republican Party support for this one. Reps. Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, and Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Ben Sasse, and Pat Toomey have all come out in favor of impeachment. Others, like Sens. Mitt Romney and Susan Collins, have been so critical of Trump in their public statements that one wouldn’t be surprised if they voted to convict.
However, not everyone thinks this is the right way forward.
“The Democrat-led impeachment talks happening in the House right now fly in direct opposition to what President-elect Joe Biden has been calling for all year,” said Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). “An impeachment vote will only lead to more hate and a deeply fractured nation. I oppose impeaching President Trump.”