Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated to his colleagues how he intends to vote in the ongoing impeachment trial.
According to multiple reports, McConnell sent a letter to his party members saying he will vote to acquit former President Trump of the impeachment charge for inciting a riot against the Capitol on January 6th.
McConnell said the Senate body, which he led prior to the November election where Trump was also voted out of office, lacked jurisdiction in the matter.
While an impeachment trial is well within the constitutional authority for the Senate, McConnell argued his chamber utilizing the impeachment trial to consider removal of a sitting official. Since Trump is no longer in office, McConnell claims the impeachment trial is no longer appropriate.
“While a close call, I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we therefore lack jurisdiction,” McConnell wrote, Politico reports.
"McConnell reveals he will vote to acquit Trump" https://t.co/Pe2gO35nEW
— Trump War Room (@TrumpWarRoom) February 13, 2021
McConnell suggested Trump could face justice via a criminal prosecution through the normal courts, rather than the impeachment process.
“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 said in the letter.
Fox confirms: McConnell will vote to acquit Trump in impeachment trial
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) February 13, 2021
As Politico reports, McConnell is not attempting to convince his colleagues to vote one way or the other on the conviction — but his indication that he is voting to acquit Trump could give other members confidence to follow suit.
McConnell is not whipping colleagues on their votes, but the decision of the GOP leader to acquit Trump will certainly tamp down the number of “yes” votes. As many as 10 senators were thought to be considering a conviction vote as of Friday, but it’s become harder and harder to see many senators convicting Trump other than the six who have voted to proceed.
Read the full letter below, via Newsweek:
Colleagues, as I have said for some time, today’s vote is a vote of conscience and I know we will all treat it as such. I have been asked directly by a number of you how I intend to vote, so thought it right to make that known prior to the final vote. While a close call, I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we therefore lack jurisdiction. The Constitution makes 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.
Given these conclusions, I will vote to acquit.