Senate Republicans are reportedly firing warning shots ahead of the looming impeachment trial for former President Trump, suggesting that they will no longer be able to support Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as leader if he votes to convict the former president.
McConnell has yet to determine how he will vote in the upcoming Senate impeachment trial, stating in a letter earlier this month that he intends to “listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate.” His refusal to reveal his leanings and recent determination that Trump and “other powerful people” essentially “provoked” the January 6 mob have appeared to cause a bit of unease among Senate Republicans.
“If he does, I don’t know if he can stay as leader,” one unnamed senior GOP senator said, according to CNN. The senator apparently told the outlet that “several of his colleagues held similar views and asked not to be named discussing sensitive internal politics.”
Similarly, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said he would not be able to support McConnell as leader if the Kentucky Republican voted to convict Trump.
“‘No, no, no,’ he said, adding, ‘I don’t even think we should be having a trial.'”
Lawmakers in the Democrat-led House of Representatives, including ten Republicans, voted to impeach Trump for the second time one week after the U.S. Capitol protest that occurred on January 6, accusing him of inciting the chaos that took place. Now the Senate is tasked with holding a trial, despite the fact that Trump is already out of office. However, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has already revealed that their major goal, in addition to convicting Trump, is to prevent him from ever running for office again amid fears that he will launch another presidential bid for 2024.
“After what he has done, the consequences of which we were all witness to, Donald Trump should not be eligible to run for office ever again,” Schumer said on the Senate floor this week.
“Let me be clear: There will be an impeachment trial in the United States Senate. There will be a vote on convicting the president for high crimes and misdemeanors. If the president is convicted, there will be a vote on barring him again,” the New York Democrat continued.
“The mob was fed lies. 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,” McConnell said, praising lawmakers for pressing on.
“We stood together and said an angry mob would not get veto power over the rule of law in our nation,” he added:
Sen. Majority Leader McConnell: Insurrectionists were "provoked by the president and other powerful people." pic.twitter.com/6kqSlAJHky
— The Recount (@therecount) January 19, 2021
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), too, veered from his Senate colleague during a Wednesday appearance on Fox News.
“I don’t agree with him,” Graham said of McConnell’s remarks. “That would be a crime, to provoke somebody, to incite them to violence. Show me the clip where he did that.”
While Graham praised McConnell as a “good leader” and “great street fighter,” he said that the Republican leader is “giving some legitimacy to this impeachment process,” which he said he believes is “wrong.”
It remains unclear when, exactly, the impeachment trial will begin as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has yet to transmit the article of impeachment to the upper chamber.