There’s a better than 50-50 chance Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will vote to convict President Donald Trump in an impeachment trial, according to a new report.
McConnell appears to be more set on convicting Trump in an extraordinary turn against the president in the wake of last week’s Capitol riot.
A Tuesday night report from Axios cited a top Republican close to McConnell saying, ‘The Senate institutional loyalists are fomenting a counterrevolution’ to Trump.
McConnell has been signaling support for the House Democratic impeachment effort that includes an article charging the president with ‘incitement of insurrection’.
The news comes on the heels of a New York Times report that McConnell told associates he believes Trump ‘committed impeachable offenses’ and he’s ‘pleased’ by the move to impeach him.
Also on Tuesday Rep. Liz Cheney, the House’s third-ranking Republican, announced that she would vote for impeaching President Trump.
‘On January 6, 2021 a violent mob attacked the United States Capitol to obstruct the process of our democracy and stop the counting of presidential electoral votes. This insurrection caused injury, death and destruction in the most sacred space in our Republic,’ wrote Cheney, the daughter of the former vice president.
U.S. President Donald Trump disembarks from Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, after visiting the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Harlingen, Texas, Tuesday
President Donald Trump returns to the White House on Marine One in Washington, D.C Tuesday
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is signaling support for the House Democratic impeachment effort that includes an article charging the president with ‘incitement of insurrection’. Trump retyrns to the White House on Tuesday evening
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell denounced Trump’s election challenge in a speech last week after a mob egged on by Trump invaded the U.S. Capitol
Also on Tuesday Rep. Liz Cheney, the House’s third-ranking Republican, announced that she would vote for impeaching President Trump
‘Much more will become clear in coming days and weeks, but what we know now is enough. The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,’ she continued.
‘I will vote to impeach the President,’ Cheney concluded.
Word of the powerful Senate Republican’s posture came Tuesday as the House prepared prepared to take up an impeachment article Wednesday – with signs that several Republicans will back it.
McConnell worked successfully to scuttle the impeachment effort during a trial last year on different charges. His current view follows reports that McConnell never wants to speak to Trump again after the Capitol riots that had Trump supporters invading the Capitol, trashing leadership offices, and endangering the lives of lawmakers.
McConnell backs the effort because it will make it easier to purge Trump from the party, the New York Times reports.
One feature of impeachment – which can grind the Senate to a halt and lead to furious partisan arguments – is that it allows lawmakers to vote to prohibit the person being impeached from ever holding public office with the U.S. government.
Trump may run for president in 2024, and many of his potential rivals happen to hold Senate seats.
McConnell has made clear in private discussions that ‘now is the moment to move on the weakened lame duck, whom he blames for Republicans losing the Senate,’ according to the report.
His view emerged as Trump, rather than express contrition, called impeachment a ‘hoax’ and a ‘witch hunt,’ and defended his pre-riot comments that Democrats have already said was incitement. Trump called his speech minutes before the siege ‘totally appropriate.’
U.S. President Donald Trump disembarks from a helicopter before boarding Air Force One at Valley International Airport after visiting the U.S.-Mexico border wall, in Harlingen, Texas, U.S., January 12, 2021. A pro-Trump mob invaded the Capitol last week, with angry rioters stopped just feet short of the Senate chamber and McConnell’s leadership office
Nevertheless, a McConnell memo that emerged over the weekend cited scheduling challenges for impeachment – a trial might not even begin until after Jan. 19th, since the Senate is not in session.
Trump ignored McConnell’s advice and launched his election challenge despite two run-off elections in Georgia which the GOP lost – stripping the party of its majority.
McConnell’s wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, quit the Trump cabinet after the riots, which included an angry mob getting blocked steps from the door to the Senate chamber that McConnell uses when he normally strolls from his leadership office.
A source told CNN McConnell ‘hates’ Trump and is ‘furious’ with him after the Capitol riots.
Cheney’s statement denouncing the president comes after he told supporters they need to ‘get rid’ of people like her.
‘We got to get rid of the weak Congresspeople, the ones that aren’t any good, the Liz Cheneys of the world. We got to get rid of them,’ Trump said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised her, amid speculation numerous House Republicans might follow her lead. ‘Good for her for honoring her oath of us. Would that more Republicans would honor their oaths of office,’ Pelosi said.
‘THE PRESIDENT LIT THE FLAME.’ GOP NO.3 LIZ CHENEY’S STATEMENT IN FULL
On January 6, 2021 a violent mob attacked the United States Capitol to obstruct the process of our democracy and stop the counting of presidential electoral votes. This insurrection caused injury, death and destruction in the most sacred space in our Republic.
Much more will become clear in coming days and weeks, but what we know now is enough. The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.
I will vote to impeach the President.
The siege left five people dead, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer who was based on the Senate side.
It was not immediately clear how McConnell might vote on impeachment.
Convicting Trump on an impeachment article requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate, where Republicans hold 50 votes – a high bar to meet.
Report on his potential thinking follows reports that a House GOP leader, Conference Chair Rep. Liz Cheney, could potentially back impeachment, after calling it a conscience vote that leaders would not whip.
She, like McConnell, put out a blistering statement following the Capitol riots.
The House is set to vote Tuesday on a procedure for impeachment after an angry clash at the Rules Committee over Trump’s claims of election fraud. The full House is set to vote Wednesday on impeachment.
Assuming passage, it has not been determined when Democratic leaders will transmit the impeachment article, or when the Senate might take it up.
Amid concern among members of both parties about what Trump will do in his final eight days in office, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and other top military members issued a letter stating that the military would not follow any unlawful orders and expressing loyalty to the U.S. Constitution.
The FBI has warned of possible plans for additional attacks on the Capitol – and announced an array of charges that could include sedition, conspiracy, and murder, along with trespassing and property theft in ongoing manhunt for Capitol riot perpetrators. More than 160 cases are currently open.
Just as news broke of McConnell’s posture, it was revealed that upstate New York Republican Rep. John Katko would back impeachment in the House.
‘To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy,’ Katko said in a statement, Syracuse.com reported. “For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action. I will vote to impeach this president,’ he said.
President-elect Joe Biden said Monday there was the possibility of dual-tracking an impeachment and Senate session that would be needed to get his cabinet confirmed.
Biden phoned McConnell on Monday, according to the Times on the subject of a trial, and McConnell said he would consult the Senate parliamentarian and get back.
There are Senate rules and precedents governing impeachment, but leaders also might be able to negotiate a way to handle it, with the possibility of a special impeachment committee taking up some of the burden.
Trump has continued his usual pattern of lashing out at political adversaries when under attack.
‘Free speech is under assault like never before. The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me, but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden Administration. As the expression goes, be careful what you wish for,’ Trump said, amid a Democratic push to have Vice President Mike Pence invoke the amendment to declare Trump unfit.
Post-riot accounts from last Wednesday reveal that not only did President Trump egg on supporters who wreaked havoc in the Capitol – but he was glued to the television as the events unfolded, incapable of responding to desperate pleas to use influence to stop it and enjoying seeing it unfold.
There were two major areas where the president fell dramatically short of what was being asked of him: using his personal popularity with his followers to urge them to vacate the Capitol immediately; and using the vast powers of his office to try to speed a federal response.
But when key current and former aides and family members tried to reach him, he was ‘busy enjoying the spectacle,’ according to a Washington Post account.
What Trump told supporters before they ransacked the Capitol in ‘totally appropriate’ speech
We’re going to have to fight much harder
‘Republicans are constantly fighting like a boxer with his hands tied behind his back. It’s like a boxer. And we want to be so nice. We want to be so respectful of everybody, including bad people. And we’re going to have to fight much harder.’
We’re going to walk down to the Capitol
‘We’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.
‘Get tougher’ / You are allowed to go by very different rules
‘The Republicans have to get tougher. You’re not going to have a Republican Party if you don’t get tougher. They want to play so straight. They want to play so serious. “The United States, the Constitution doesn’t allow me to send them back to the states.” Well, I would say yes, it does, because the Constitution says you have to protect our country, and you have to protect our Constitution, and you can’t vote on fraud, and fraud breaks up everything, doesn’t it? When you catch somebody in a fraud, you are allowed to go by very different rules. So I hope Mike has the courage to do what he has to do, and I hope he doesn’t listen to the RINOs and the stupid people that he’s listening toWhen you catch somebody in a fraud, you are allowed to go by very different rules. So I hope Mike has the courage to do what he has to do, and I hope he doesn’t listen to the RINOs and the stupid people that he’s listening to.’
Takes ‘more courage not to step up’
‘I also want to thank our 13 most courageous members of the U.S. Senate … I actually think, though, it takes, again, more courage not to step up, and I think a lot of those people are going to find that out. And you better start looking at your leadership, because your leadership has led you down the tubes.’
‘We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough.’
On ‘fake news’ and ‘Big tech’
‘They rigged an election, they rigged it like they have never rigged an election before.’
‘All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by bold and radical left Democrats, which is what they are doing, and stolen by the fake news media. That is what they have done and what they are doing. We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.’
‘We will not take it anymore’
‘Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore, and that is what this is all about.’ And to use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with, we will stop the steal.’
Denied Biden’s vote count
‘He had 80 million computer votes. It’s a disgrace. There’s never been anything like that. You can take Third World countries, just take a look, take Third World countries, their elections are more honest than what we have been going through in this country. It’s a disgrace. It’s a disgrace. Even when you look at last night, they were all running around like chickens with their heads cut off with boxes, and nobody knows what the hell is going on. There’s never been anything like this. We will not let them silence your voices. We’re not going to let it happen.’
[Note: Biden got more than 81 million votes; Trump rounded up his own total to 75 million.]
Call for military and law enforcement to join
‘And I would love to have, if those tens of thousands of people would be allowed, the military, the Secret Service and we want to thank you — and the police and law enforcement — great, you’re doing a great job. But I would love it if they could be allowed to come up with us. Is that possible? Can you just let them, please?’
Pressure on Mike Pence: Says it takes ‘courage’ to do nothing
‘I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election … All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to re-certify, and we become president, and you are the happiest people.’
‘And I actually, I just spoke to Mike. I said, Mike, that doesn’t take courage, what takes courage is to do nothing. That takes courage, and then we are stuck with a president who lost the election by a lot, and we have to live with that for four more years. We’re just not going to let that happen.’
Won’t stand for Biden win
‘We want to go back, and we want to get this right, because we’re going to have somebody in there that should not be in there, and our country will be destroyed. And we’re not going to stand for that.’
‘You’re not the people that tore down our nation’
‘If this happened to the Democrats, there’d be hell all over the country going on. There’d be hell all over the country.
But just remember this, you’re stronger, you’re smarter. You’ve got more going than anybody, and
they try and demean everybody having to do with us, and you’re the real people. You’re the people that built this nation. You’re not the people that tore down our nation.’
March peacefully … we will see whether Republicans stand strong
‘I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.
Today, we will see whether Republicans stand strong for the integrity of our elections. But whether or not they stand strong for our country — our country, our country has been under siege for a long time. Far longer than this four-year period’
‘Ashamed … throughout eternity’
‘Today, we see a very important event, though, because right over there, right there, we see the event that’s going to take place, and I’m going to be watching because history is going to be made. We’re going to see whether or not we have great and courageous leaders or whether or not we have leaders that should be ashamed of themselves throughout history, throughout eternity. They’ll be ashamed. And you know what? If they do the wrong thing, we should never, ever forget that they did. Never forget.’
Calls Republicans who voted not to count certified votes ‘warriors’
‘I want to thank the more than 140 members of the House. Those are warriors.15
They’re over there working like you’ve never seen before, studying, talking, actually going all the way back studying the roots of the Constitution because they know we have the right to send a bad vote that was illegally gotten.’
Biden will be ‘illegitimate’
‘But think of this: If you don’t do that, that means you will have a president of the United States for four years with his wonderful son, you will have a president who lost all of these states, or you will have a president, to put it another way, who was voted on by a bunch of stupid people who lost all of these states. You will have an illegitimate president. That is what you will have, and we can’t let that happen.’
Call to ‘do something’ about radical left
‘The radical left knows exactly what they were doing. They are ruthless, and it’s time that somebody did something about it.
And Mike Pence, I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country. (APPLAUSE) And if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you. I will tell you right now. I’m not hearing good stories.’
Election was ‘stolen’
‘Make no mistake, this election was stolen from you, from me, and from the country, and not a single swing state has conducted a comprehensive audit to remove the illegal ballots.
This should absolutely occur in every single contested state before the election is certified.’
Alleges ‘criminal enterprise’
‘So, when you hear — when you hear, “While there is no evidence to prove any wrongdoing,” this is the most fraudulent thing anybody’s — this is a criminal enterprise. This is a criminal enterprise.’
Fight like hell
‘And again, most people would stand there at 9 o’clock in the evening and say, “I want to thank you very much,” and they go off to some other life.
But I said something is wrong here, something is really wrong, can’t have happened, and we fight. We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.’
President Donald Trump called his pre-riot remarks ‘totally appropriate’
President Donald Trump was glued to the television at the White House as his supporters ransacked the Capitol
As the historic mob invasion of the U.S. seat of legislative government unfolded, a variety of people with influence over Trump sought to get to him to urge action.
The routes they took were typical of the loosely organized web of influence within the Trump White House.
Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham – who only after the riot firmly declared Joe Biden the winner of the election – reached out to the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump.
‘It took him a while to appreciate the gravity of the situation,’ Graham told the Post. ‘The president saw these people as his allies in his journey and sympathetic to the idea that the election was stolen,’ Graham said of the rioters who took the Capitol.
House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who Trump believes is so much under his wing that he has publicly called him ‘My Kevin,’ was pleading for action.
Trump had told supporters to ‘fight’ and encouraged them to march to the Capitol
Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Protesters attempt to enter the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation’s capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. One Capitol Police officer died in the action
Police officers in riot gear line up as protesters gather on the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. It took hours to regain control of the building
Senator Lindsey Graham reached out to Ivanka Trump during the chaos
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) pleaded with Trump during the riot
Chief of staff Mark Meadows urged Trump to speak out after an aide told him ‘They are going to kill people’ in reference to the rioters
McCarthy phoned Trump directly to try to plead for assistance – but also called the president’s son in law, Jared Kushner, who was returning form a trip to the Middle East.
Former counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, who doesn’t even work for Trump anymore, tried to get through to him to urge action. She phoned an aide she knew was in close proximity to Trump.
The office of the Mayor of Washington, desperate to get more National Guard forces amid logistical and jurisdictional hurdles, also reached out to Conway.
Chief of staff Mark Meadows urged Trump to speak out after an aide told him: ‘They are going to kill people,’ in reference to the rioters.
A primary area of the pleas related to something Trump was capable of doing on his own without engaging with the bureaucracy: issuing simple Twitter or video pleas for protesters to get out of the Capitol.
The appeals he finally made either lacked a direct call to fall back, or sprinkled in approving language even as the riot that would become deadly unfolded.
At 2:30 pm, about half an hour after the Capitol breach, Trump told his supporters to ‘Please support our Capitol Police’ and to ‘Stay peaceful!’
His next message was more explicit, writing ‘No violence!’ – but claimed ‘WE are the Party of Law & Order.’
After he finally put out a video at about 4 pm, Trump finally told his backers to ‘go home.’ But he also called them ‘very special,’ called the election ‘fraudulent,’ and said: ‘You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home, and go home in peace.’
Trump himself had egged on his supporters with demands that they ‘fight,’ calling the election fraudulent, and putting pressure on Vice President Mike Pence, whose only role was ceremonial and involved opening and reading from envelopes containing electoral votes.
Trump was glued to the television as the storming of the Capitol was broadcast.
Prior reporting has revealed that the Washington D.C. government had requested a National Guard presence, but Guard were assigned to traffic and other assistance and weren’t issued ammo or riot gear.
The now resigned chief of Capitol Police says he wanted more Guard support in advance of Wednesday but had been told by superiors to ask for it informally. The governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, says there were delays getting approval to send Guard forces from the Pentagon.
But it wasn’t mere distraction that kept Trump from springing into action. It’s not atht he was too busy because he was so consumed, which he was,’ the New York Times reported.
‘He was pleased because it was people fighting on his behalf. He was pleased because he liked the scene. And he was pleased because it was delaying the certification of the Electoral College vote,’ the New York Times reported. ‘He knew what was happening… He just didn’t want to do anything.’
Although McCarthy told colleagues on a call Monday Trump had accepted ‘some responsibility’ for the riot, on Tuesday the president was back to his defiant posture familiar from impeachment and the Russia probe. He said a second impeachment Democrats are lining up is a ‘continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics.’