By BURGESS EVERETT
His announcement ends a long period of silence over whether he would consider convicting Trump.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told GOP colleagues in a letter that he will vote to acquit Donald Trump in the former president’s impeachment trial, according to sources familiar with the communication.
McConnell’s announcement ends a long period of silence over whether he would consider convicting Trump for incitement of insurrection and could pave the way for many other Republicans to follow in acquittal. The Kentuckian shared his decision in a note to fellow GOP senators on Saturday morning, ahead of what could be the final day of Trump’s second impeachment trial.
“While a close call, I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we therefore lack jurisdiction,” McConnell wrote.
That position puts McConnell in line with the votes he and 43 other GOP senators already cast, declaring Trump’s second trial unconstitutional. But the Republican leader, who has not spoken to Trump for weeks, suggested that criminal prosecution of the former president could be appropriate as a remedy following the violent Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
“The Constitution makes it perfectly clear that Presidential criminal misconduct while in office can be prosecuted after the President has left office, which in my view alleviates the otherwise troubling ‘January exception’ argument raised by the House,” McConnell wrote to fellow Republicans.
McConnell has held his decision close throughout the trial, until Saturday, and said in his email that he continues to view the verdict as a “vote of conscience” but shared his choice because his colleagues have been directly asking how he’ll vote.
The Senate could take its final trial vote as soon as Saturday, although a burgeoning debate among Democrats over whether to make an eleventh-hour push for witnesses may yet prolong the proceedings.