Washington, Jan. 15: For a second time, Republican senators face the choice of whether to convict President Donald Trump in an impeachment trial. While only one GOP senator, Utah’s Mitt Romney, voted to convict Trump last year, that number could increase as lawmakers consider whether to punish Trump for his role in inciting a deadly insurrection at the Capitol.
Whatever they decide, Trump is likely to be gone from the White House when the verdict comes in. An impeachment trial is likely to start next week, as early as Inauguration Day, raising the specter of the Senate trying the previous president even as it moves to confirm the incoming president’s Cabinet.
GOP leader Mitch McConnell, who says he’s undecided, is one of several key senators to watch, along with Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who is set to take the Senate reins as his party reclaims the Senate majority.
Others to watch include GOP senators up for reelection in 2022 and several Republicans who have publicly backed impeachment. At least at the trial’s start, all eyes will be on McConnell, who largely protected Trump during the last impeachment trial and refused Democrats’ pleas to call witnesses.
This time, Trump may not be so fortunate. McConnell has told associates he is done with Trump and has said publicly he is undecided on impeachment. How he votes could sway other Republicans whose votes Trump needs to avoid conviction.
The Republican leader holds great sway in his party even though convening the trial could be among his last acts as majority leader. Even as minority leader, McConnell will be a crucial and perhaps decisive voice. If the veteran Kentucky Republican sticks with Trump, conviction is unlikely.
If McConnell votes against Trump, all bets are off as Democrats seek the 17 GOP votes they will need for the first-ever Senate conviction in a presidential impeachment trial. — AP