That position aligns McConnell with the votes he and 43 other GOP senators have already cast, and renders Trump’s second trial unconstitutional. But the Republican leader, who has not spoken to Trump in weeks, suggested that prosecuting the former president might be appropriate as a remedy after the violent uprising on January 6 in the Capitol.
“The Constitution makes it perfectly clear that criminal misconduct by the president during his tenure can be prosecuted after the president resigns, which I believe mitigates the otherwise troubling argument of the House’s” January exception, “wrote McConnell other republicans.
McConnell doesn’t whip colleagues on their votes, but the GOP leader’s decision to acquit Trump will certainly reduce the number of “yes” votes. 10 Senators were believed to be considering a condemnation vote by Friday, but it’s getting harder and harder to see many Senators condemn Trump, other than the six who voted in favor, continue.
Sens. Bill Cassidy from Louisiana, Susan Collins from Maine, Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania, Ben Sasse from Nebraska, and Mitt Romney from Utah voted for a constitutional process.
“Based on his comments over the past two months, I really had no idea what he was going to do,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), A member of the GOP executive team. “He said everyone should make that decision and their own, and I think he thought that would apply to him too.”
McConnell recorded his decision throughout the trial until Saturday, saying in his email that he continues to view the verdict as a “vote of conscience” but shares his vote because his colleagues directly asked how he will vote.
The Senate could get its final trial vote as early as Saturday, though a burgeoning debate among Democrats over whether to pressurize witnesses at the eleventh hour could extend the trial.
Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.