The events of January 6th’s election certification vote sent shockwaves through the Republican party, causing a number of prominent GOP leaders to publicly turn their back on Trump — including then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Rumors swirled for weeks that McConnell would consider voting to convict Trump on impeachment charges of inciting that day’s riot, but McConnell announced to his GOP colleagues on Saturday morning that he will vote to acquit the former president.
After Democrats presented a scattered and inconsistent argument to convict Donald Trump on charges of incitement of violence, Trump’s legal team lead David Schoen efficiently dismantled the entire case on Friday, using Democrats’ own words and evidence to take down their case.
The combination of a weak presentation of the case against Trump, a strong rebuttal to Democrat claims, and a sense of waning political will in Washington and the nation as a whole seems to have had a strong effect on McConnell, who signaled a willingness to convict Trump prior to the launch of the trial earlier this week.
On January 19th, McConnell repudiated Trump during a speech on the Senate floor, declaring that the January 6th rioters “provoked by the president and other powerful people” and that “they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like.”
McConnell later told reporters that he wouldn’t make up his mind until both sides presented their cases. “I think that’s what we ought to do,” he said at the time. “That’s what I said before it started. That’s still my view.”
According to a Politico report on Saturday morning, however, McConnell told GOP leaders in a letter that he will “vote to acquit Donald Trump in the former president’s impeachment trial, according to sources familiar with the communication.”
McConnell’s definitive vote in support of acquittal all but ensures that Trump will be ultimately cleared of the charges.
Despite the confidence that the Senate will ultimately vote to acquit Trump, hopes of a speedy and efficient trial ending in conviction are fading as Democrats scramble to shore up their failing case.
The Senate voted 55-45 on Saturday to call impeachment witnesses, a last-minute decision that will extend the trial for weeks and potentially play into Republicans’ hands, Fox News reported.
Trump Lawyer Michael van der Veen declared that if witnesses are called, he will call Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for in-person depositions.
The process could drag the trial out weeks longer than anticipated, which could backfire on Democrats hoping to convict Trump and move on to implementing Joe Biden’s agenda.