Recent reports indicate Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is in favor of the latest impeachment effort against President Donald Trump.
Nevertheless, he has no plans to rush a Senate trial that could theoretically cut the president’s term in office short.
“Call the Senate back”
According to The Hill, McConnell shot down a request to reconvene the Senate for an early trial following Wednesday’s vote to make Trump the only president in U.S. history to have been impeached twice. With the support of 10 Republicans, the vote to impeach passed the lower chamber by a margin of 232–197, the BBC reported.
McConnell’s Democratic counterpart, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), confirmed that he made the request: “I’ve asked him to call the Senate back — all he needs is my agreement, I’m still the minority leader,” Schumer said, according to The Hill.
Barring unanimous consent from all senators, however, McConnell is reportedly unwilling to reconvene the Senate prior to Jan. 19 — one day before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The trial would not begin any sooner than Jan. 20, but could begin as soon as an hour into Biden’s fledgling administration.
In a statement on Wednesday, McConnell indicated that there is “simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week.”
“I have not made a final decision”
Should the Senate vote to convict Trump, even after he leaves office, a simple majority vote thereafter could bar him from seeking future federal elected office. For McConnell’s part, such a result could be a net positive.
“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 explained in the memo, as The Hill reported separately.
One Senate Republican who opposes impeachment noted in his own statement that the effort would be unconstitutional given the current timeline.
“The Founders designed the impeachment process as a way to remove officeholders from public office — not an inquest against private citizens,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) argued, according to the New York Post. “The Constitution presupposes an office from which an impeached officeholder can be removed.”