Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who voted with 44 other Republicans Tuesday against proceeding with an impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump, has not said how he would vote when the impeachment trial commences in February.
“The trial hasn’t started yet,” he said in the Capitol on Wednesday, according to reporters on the scene. “And I intend to participate in that and listen to the evidence.”
When a reporter asked McConnell about whether he would vote to convict Trump, he did not answer, according to the Washington Examiner.
Should McConnell vote to convict Trump in the Senate, it would be a potentially politically perilous move as Trump is by far the most popular GOP figure and would likely alienate McConnell from his Republican base. Meanwhile, only five Republican senators voted Tuesday to go ahead with the impeachment trial; they include Republican Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah), Ben Sasse (Neb.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Pat Toomey (Pa.).
On Tuesday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) argued that Trump is no longer president, noting that proceedings will be run by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the Senate’s president pro tempore—rather than Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who would typically preside over a presidential impeachment trial.
House Democrats and 10 Republicans voted to impeach Trump earlier this month, claiming he incited an insurrection that prompted an attack at the U.S. Capitol during the Joint Session of Congress on Jan. 6. Trump, for his part, has said he believed his speech to supporters was fine and later condemned the violence.
To convict a president in the Senate requires 67 votes, meaning that 17 Republicans would have to side with all Democrats to find Trump guilty.
“If we are going to put every politician in jail, are we going to impeach every politician who has used the words ‘fight’ figuratively in a speech? Shame,” Paul said on Tuesday afternoon. “I want this body on record. Every last person here,” Paul added.
Elaborating, Paul added: “As of noon last Wednesday, Donald Trump holds none of the positions listed in the Constitution. He is a private citizen. The presiding officer is not the chief justice, nor does he claim to be. His presence in the chief justice’s absence demonstrates that this is not a trial of the president, but a private citizen.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), however, said that it is in fact constitutional to impeach Trump once he’s out of office.
“We need truth and accountability for Donald Trump’s actions. His impeachment trial will move forward in the United States Senate,” Schumer wrote on Twitter.