Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) informed Republican senators on Wednesday that he hasn’t decided whether to acquit or convict President Donald Trump on an article of impeachment expected to pass the House.
“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,” McConnell wrote in a letter to colleagues, part of which was made public by the senator’s office.
The release marks the first time McConnell’s stance on the impeachment was made known. Reports had suggested that McConnell was open to convicting Trump.
McConnell broke from Trump over two major issues late last year, leading an override of Trump’s national defense bill veto and refusing to allow a vote on a narrow bill that would have upped stimulus checks to $2,000.
The House on Monday introduced an article of impeachment that accused Trump of “incitement of insurrection.” Democrats argue Trump’s Jan. 6 speech in Washington incited supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol a short time later.
Because Democrats control the House, and some Republican representatives have said they’ll vote to impeach Trump, the House is expected to approve the article on Wednesday.
But the fate of the impeachment in the Senate is unclear. The Senate will soon be split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats. Conviction on an article of impeachment requires a supermajority. Five Republicans have expressed openness to convicting Trump, including Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who voted for one article when the House impeached the president last year. But 10 others have voiced opposition to the fresh impeachment, arguing it will further divide an already divided country.
“In accordance with our Constitution, the orderly transfer of power will occur at noon on January 20. The best way for our country to heal and move past the events of last week would be for this process to continue,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said in a statement.
Even some Democrats say there aren’t enough senators willing to vote to convict. “The votes aren’t there,” he said this week.
Republicans have asked President-elect Joe Biden to direct Democratic congressional leaders to halt the impeachment, but he has declined to do so. Instead, he told reporters this week he has asked House leaders about conducting an impeachment trial for half a day each day and reserve the other hours for hearing from and confirming his nominees.
McConnell’s spokesman confirmed earlier Wednesday that the Senate majority leader will not agree to a proposal from Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to reconvene the Senate this week.
The Senate is out of session until Jan. 19.