Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Republican colleagues on Wednesday that he had yet to make up his mind on the fate of President Donald Trump, ahead of a House vote to impeach the president later in the day.
“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 letter.
Though McConnell’s statement gives no indication which way he will eventually decide, the fact that the top Republican in the Senate would not rule out convicting a president of his own party is a striking indication of the tumult within the GOP and its relationship to Trump. In 2019, during Trump’s first brush with impeachment, McConnell was far more direct that Trump would be acquitted of the charges against him — which he ultimately was in early 2020.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that McConnell was fed up with the president after the storming of the U.S. Capitol a week ago and was content to stand by as Democrats launched proceedings to levy the stiffest sanctions possible against a sitting president.
McConnell’s Republican counterpart in the House, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, on Wednesday said that Trump needed to “accept his share of responsibility” for fomenting the Capitol assault, while rejecting impeaching him for the second time in his nearly concluded four years in office.
The House is voting on an article of impeachment Wednesday, which will then subject Trump to a trial in the Senate at some point in the near future. McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, resigned as Trump’s Transportation secretary in protest of the deadly insurrection on Jan. 6, which was led by a horde of the president’s supporters.
McConnell is set to be relegated to the status of minority leader later this month after Georgia Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are sworn in following their Senate runoff victories last week.