Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is signaling to fellow Republicans that the final vote on Donald Trump’s impeachment is a matter of conscience and that senators who questioned the constitutionality of the trial could still vote to convict the former president. according to three people familiar with his thinking.
The Kentucky Republican also suggested that he has not decided how he will vote, two of the people said, even though he voted Tuesday to declare unconstitutional for the Senate to hear the case against a former president.
That position is completely different than McConnell’s statement at the beginning of Trump’s first impeachment trial last year that it was not considered an impartial jury.
The Senate is highly unlikely to convict Trump on the only House indictment count of inciting an insurrection, which cited the former president’s actions surrounding the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill. The conviction requires a two-thirds majority, meaning that at least 17 Republicans would have to vote with all Democrats in the House 50-50.
Only six Republicans voted Tuesday in favor of the Senate process constitutionality. While that was enough for the simple majority required to proceed with the trial, it does suggest that the majority of Republican senators do not want to vote against Trump.
McConnell, at a leadership meeting Monday night, said the same things he said publicly, a person familiar with the matter said.
(Updates with McConnell at the leadership meeting, in the final paragraph.)