Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Saturday told fellow Republican senators that he intends to vote to acquit former President Donald Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, according to multiple reports.
Politico first reported that McConnell (R-Ky.) announced the decision in a letter to colleagues, though not all had read it before arriving to the Senate on Saturday for the expected final day of the trial, beginning at 10 am.
The news all but assures that Trump will be acquitted in a mostly party-line vote.
McConnell was among Trump’s sharpest critics on the right following the riot that left five dead including four rioters and US Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.
McConnell said last month that the rioters were “provoked by the president” and his wife, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, was the first Trump cabinet member to resign over the violence.
But he also voted with 43 other GOP senators that the proceeding was unconstitutional since Trump is already out of office.
And Republican senators have been largely unswayed by the presentations of Democratic House impeachment managers. Many said they cannot overlook their belief that the Constitution doesn’t allow for impeachment trials of ex-presidents. Others said they don’t believe Democrats proved Trump incited the mob with a pre-riot speech.
he McConnell choice means any chance for Democrats to get a conviction is all but dead and it had already been a longshot.
Democrats must win over 17 Republicans to convict Trump and ban him from holding office again. They are expected to fall short of the threshold after winning just six GOP votes Tuesday on whether the trial is constitutional.