As impeachment vote draws near, Mitch McConnell revealing little

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. Source: AP
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Daily US Times: Seldom has Mitch McConnell, Senate Republican leader, signaled so little about such a consequential vote.

While many expect Mitch McConnell to back acquitting former President Donald Trump of inciting rioters to the Capitol last month, no one is really sure. The Washington political stablishment and the world beyond will collectively hold its breath when the Senate impeachment trial roll call reaches the Kentuckian’s name.

Over 36 years in the US Senate, the measured Mitch McConnell has earned a reputation for inexpressiveness in the service of caution. This time, the suspense over how he will vote underscores how much is at stake for him and his party, though it seems extremely unlikely that 17 GOP senators will join all 50 Democrats to convict Trump.

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

While Feehery noted that Mr McConnell was clearly outraged over the attack, he said, “He’s trying to keep his party together.”

A vote to acquit by McConnell would leave the GOP’s factions locked in their struggle to define itself in the post-Trump presidency. A guilty vote could do more to spoil GOP voters by signaling an attempt to yank the party away from a figure still revered by most of its voters.

Either way, the top Republican’s decision could influence the party’s short- and long-term election prospects and affect the political clout and legacy of both Donald Trump and the Senate minority leader.

Just minutes after the Democratic-led House impeached former president Trump on January 13 for inciting insurrection, McConnell flashed a blinking yellow light. He wrote to his Republican colleagues that he would “not made a final decision” about how he’d vote at the Senate trial.

It was an eye-opening departure from the opposition McConnell expressed rapidly when the House impeached the then-president Donald Trump in December 2019 for trying to force Ukraine to send him political dirt on now-President Joe Biden and other Democrats.

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