McConnell: Senate would not convict Trump if impeachment trial were held today

November 6, 2019

Republicans in the Senate would shoot down the Democrats’ impeachment push if the vote were held today, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Tuesday.

McConnell’s statement is a stark warning to Democrats heartened by signs of a supposed weakening by Republican senators as Democrats seek Trump’s ouster. The media has dialed up the pressure on Republican senators to “do the right thing” and betray Republican voters as a stream of witnesses testify about Trump’s request to have Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

“I will say I’m pretty sure how it’s likely to end,” McConnell told reporters, according to Politico. “If it were today, I don’t think there’s any question — it would not lead to a removal. So the question is how long does the Senate want to take? How long do the presidential candidates want to be here on the floor of the Senate instead of in Iowa and New Hampshire?”

McConnell predicts acquittal

Whether Democrats’ impeachment effort will succeed has always hinged on whether Senate Republicans would stick with the president or cave to pressure from Democrats and the media. In recent days, some in the media have begun to talk up a possible revolt by Republican senators who tired of President Trump’s capricious leadership and unconventional policy views, especially on intervention in foreign conflicts.

Weeks ago, McConnell himself sharply rebuked President Trump in an op-ed for withdrawing troops from Syria and abandoning the Kurds, according to USA Today. Trump’s decision drew similar barbs from allies like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), encouraging chatter in the media that Trump’s acquittal in the Senate was by no means assured.

For his part, McConnell has said that he would consider impeachment articles if brought to the Senate for a trial. But despite talk of a supposed “tone shift,” which the media has sought to link with a series of “bombshell” depositions, the most likely scenario remains that President Trump will be impeached in the House, then acquitted in the Senate — and McConnell confirmed that on Tuesday.

While the media points to a handful of Republican senators with measured concerns about Trump’s interactions with Ukraine, Trump has received enthusiastic backing from core supporters like Graham and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who has called on the “whistleblower” to be unmasked. McConnell declined to say whether he agreed with Paul on that issue, but he has blasted the impeachment as being unfair to President Trump, according to the Washington Examiner.

Democrats voted last week to authorize the inquiry after weeks of stalling and lay down rules for the inquiry, but Republicans have maintained that it’s a one-sided “sham” and an effort to reverse the 2016 election. Republicans have also questioned the leading role played in the inquiry by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and have insisted that there is no evidence of wrongdoing in the transcript of Trump’s phone call with Ukraine.

Dems pray for rain in impeachment gulch

To remove Trump, some 20 Republican senators would have to defect, according to Fox. But outside of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), few Republicans seem prepared to take that step, considering Trump’s enormous popularity with Republican voters.

“I’d be surprised if it didn’t end the way the two previous ones did with the president not being removed from office,” McConnell said Tuesday.

The impeachments of Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton both ended in acquittal, according to Fox, and Richard Nixon resigned before he could be removed from office. In other words, President Trump’s removal by impeachment would be a first in American history.

McConnell’s promise is in keeping with the senator’s reputation for procedural hardball, which has made him something of a liberal bogeyman. Democrats have long fumed at McConnell for shooting down legislation from House Democrats, and his refusal to consider Merrick Garland, Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, remains a bitter grievance among many leftists.

Democrats have also slammed McConnell as “Moscow Mitch” for refusing to pass so-called “election security” legislation, and the Republican senator was hailed by his party for leading a hard drive to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court last year. If that side of McConnell takes precedence in the impeachment trial, it seems likely that this coup effort will backfire on Democrats.

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Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.