Establishment Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reportedly lauded the Democrats for launching Donald Trump’s impeachment trial after January 6.
Following the incident, McConnell was grateful to Democrats for taking action against his long-time political opponent, the New York Times reported. After it become certain that House Democrats would use January 6 as a potent political cudgel against conservatives, McConnell agreed with Democrats that Trump should be impeached.
“The Democrats are going to take care of the son of a bitch for us,” McConnell purportedly said. “If this isn’t impeachable, I don’t know what is.”
McConnell, who used the media’s framing to purvey January 6 as a “violent insurrection,” conveyed he would support Trump’s impeachment in the Senate. “Several senior Republicans, including John Thune of South Dakota and Rob Portman of Ohio, told confidants that Mr. McConnell was leaning that way,” the Times reported.
The articles of impeachment were soon sent to the Senate, where the debate began between the Washington, DC, establishment and conservatives. Defenders of the president maintained the impeachment trial was inappropriate because Trump was no longer president. Biden had already assumed office.
Upon that argument, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) submitted a motion to Senate Republicans raising “the question of whether it is constitutional to impeach Trump after he left office.” Forty-five senators voted in favor of Paul’s motion, including McConnell.
Trump was later acquitted of all House charges by a vote of 57 to 43; seven Senate Republicans voted with the Democrats to impeach him. Two-thirds, or 67 votes, were needed for conviction.
After Trump’s acquittal, McConnell reportedly divulged to a friend he voted in favor of defending Trump because he needed to keep his job as GOP Senate leader. “I didn’t get to be leader by voting with five people in the conference,” McConnell said.
Trump’s acquittal and continued popularity among Republicans has forced McConnell to lie low and only infrequently comment about the Democrats’ impeachment trial. But when asked on Fox News in February of 2021 if he would support Trump if he were the 2024 Republican nominee, McConnell said he would.
“Absolutely,” McConnell answered.
McConnell’s duplicitous form of politics is not appreciated by many Republicans. Wednesday polling revealed McConnell possesses the second lowest net favorability rating (-3) among Republicans. Only Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) ranks worse (-31.). In contrast, Trump ranked as the most popular Republican with a net favorability rating of +63.
On April 7, McConnell was questioned by fellow establishment member Jonathan Swan, an Axios reporter, about why Republicans “hate” him so much.
“Recent polls show your approval ratings are in the 30s among Republicans, not Democrats — Republicans,” Swan prefaced. “Why do they hate you?”
“My job is not to run up political popularity nationally,” McConnell responded. “I’m not running for anything nationally.”