McConnell Makes Decision in Trump Impeachment Trial That's Bound to Anger Millions


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will vote to acquit former President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial, according to news reports.

Anonymous sources confirmed the news to The Associated Press and Reuters prior to the opening of Saturday’s session, where senators unexpectedly voted to hear from witnesses in the case.

If McConnell’s decision holds despite that development, reported late Saturday morning by USA Today and other outlets, the Kentucky Republican will most likely be crucial to keeping Trump from becoming the first president in history to be convicted in an impeachment trial.

(UPDATE: After the vote to call witnesses, House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense agreed to let the trial move forward without additional testimony, though a statement by Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington about Trump’s reaction to news of the incursion on Jan. 6 was read into the record, according to Fox News.)

Most Democrats are expected to vote to convict Trump, but the two-thirds vote needed for a conviction is unlikely given the 50-50 split in the Senate, The Associated Press reported.

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“The overwhelming number of Republican voters don’t want Trump convicted, so that means any political leader has to tread carefully,” John Feehery, a former top congressional GOP aide, told the AP.

He added that although McConnell was outraged about the Jan. 6 incursion of the Capitol, the senator is “trying to keep his party together.”

Still, McConnell’s decision is likely to infuriate millions of liberals who might have seen him as a potentially influential vote to convict Trump.

The Senator minority leader all but blamed Trump for the attack in remarks on the Senate floor on Trump’s last day in office.

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“The mob was fed lies,” McConnel said as the Senate met for the first time since  certifying the Electoral College votes.

“They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government, which they did not like.”

When the trial began Tuesday, McConnell joined other Republican senators who voted against proceeding with it because Trump is no longer president, according to the AP.

The Republican leader has told senators to vote with their consciences.

“We’re all going to listen to what the lawyers have to say and making the arguments and work our way through it,” he told his colleagues, according to Bloomberg.

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All eyes will be on McConnell as he votes in the impeachment trial. If he votes to convict Trump, he could cover Republicans who want to do the same.

However, a vote against the former president could expose Republican senators up for re-election in 2022 to primary challenges from the party’s base.

“For McConnell, it’s always a strategy, it’s always about how he can live to fight another day,” Colmon Elridge, chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party, told the AP.

McConnell has stood with Trump during his tenure as president, but their relationship plummeted after Trump challenged the 2020 election results.

No matter how McConnell votes, it is unlikely 17 Republican senators will join the 50 Democrats to convict Trump.

Saturday was supposed to be the final day of the impeachment trial, until the Senate voted unexpectedly to hear witnesses, the AP reported. It’s now unclear how long the proceedings will go.

CORRECTION, Feb. 13, 2021: An update in this article originally misidentified the home state of Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith