WASHINGTON (AP) — Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday rejected a Democratic attempt to swiftly call the Senate into emergency session to hold an impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, all but assuring that those proceedings won't occur until after Trump leaves office.
The decision came even as a GOP strategist said the Kentucky Republican has told people he thinks Trump perpetrated impeachable offenses. McConnell also sees House Democrats' drive to impeach Trump as an opportune moment to distance the GOP from the tumultuous, divisive outgoing president, said the strategist, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said in a note to his fellow Republican senators that he is undecided on whether President Donald Trump should be convicted if the House votes to impeach him.
McConnell said in the letter Wednesday: “While the press has been full of speculation, I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate.”
The House is poised to vote to impeach Trump on Wednesday for a second time after he appeared to encourage an aggressive group of his supporters, some of whom invaded the Capitol last week.
McConnell's souring on Trump is significant because as Washington’s most powerful Republican once Democrat Joe Biden is inaugurated next week, his view could make it easier for other GOP lawmakers to turn against the outgoing president. The New York Times first reported McConnell’s view on Tuesday.
The Senate is currently in recess and isn't scheduled to return to hold a business session until Jan. 19, the day before Biden's inauguration. By law, the Senate can be summoned to return for an emergency session if the two party leaders, McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., agree to do so.
Schumer has called for an emergency Senate meeting so it can remove Trump from office before his term expires, citing potential, unpredictable problems that Trump could cause.
A McConnell spokesman confirmed Wednesday that McConnell aides had told Schumer’s office that McConnell would not agree to an emergency session. The spokesman offered no explanation of McConnell's reasoning.