Thursday June 17th, 2021 2:14PM

McConnell racing away from Trump as impeachment vote nears

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday rejected a Democratic attempt to swiftly call the Senate into emergency session to hold an impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, all but assuring that those proceedings won't occur until after Trump leaves office.

The decision came even as a GOP strategist said the Kentucky Republican has told people he thinks Trump perpetrated impeachable offenses. McConnell also sees House Democrats' drive to impeach Trump as an opportune moment to distance the GOP from the tumultuous, divisive outgoing president, said the strategist, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.

McConnell's souring on Trump is significant because as Washington’s most powerful Republican once Democrat Joe Biden is inaugurated next week, his view could make it easier for other GOP lawmakers to turn against the outgoing president. The New York Times first reported McConnell’s view on Tuesday.

The Senate is currently in recess and isn't scheduled to return to hold a business session until Jan. 19, the day before Biden's inauguration. By law, the Senate can be summoned to return for an emergency session if the two party leaders, McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., agree to do so.

Schumer has called for an emergency Senate meeting so it can remove Trump from office before his term expires, citing potential, unpredictable problems that Trump could cause.

A McConnell spokesman confirmed Wednesday that McConnell aides had told Schumer’s office that McConnell would not agree to an emergency session. The spokesman offered no explanation of McConnell's reasoning.

The Democratic-led House was moving Wednesday toward certain approval of an impeachment article accusing Trump of inciting insurrection, an unprecedented second impeachment of his clamorous presidency. Trump exhorted a throng of his followers to march on the Capitol last Wednesday, where they disrupted Congress' formal certification of Biden's win in a riot that resulted in five deaths.

The Republican strategist said McConnell hasn't said if he'd vote to convict Trump when the Senate holds an impeachment trial. Nonetheless, McConnell's thinking — and the certainty that modest but significant numbers of House Republicans were ready to vote to impeach Trump — underscored how the GOP's long reflexive support and condoning of his actions was eroding.

Last weekend, McConnell spoke to major Republican donors to assess their thinking about Trump and was told that they believed Trump had clearly crossed a line, the strategist said. McConnell told them he was finished with Trump, according to the consultant.

McConnell is looking out for his party’s long-term future, but the short-term political pain for Republican senators is clear, said a GOP aide granted anonymity to discuss the situation. The aide called a Senate vote on removing Trump a big risk for Republican senators, with many of them almost certain to face challenges in GOP primaries.

It is unclear how many Republicans would vote to convict Trump in a Senate trial, but it appears plausible that several would do so. So far, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has said she wants Trump to resign and Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., has said he would “definitely consider” House impeachment articles.

Complicating GOP thinking about Trump’s second impeachment is the fact that Republicans will be defending 20 of the 34 Senate seats up for election in 2022. Thanks to Democratic victories this month in two Georgia runoffs, Democrats are about to take control of the chamber by 50-50, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking votes.

Speaking out against impeachment Wednesday was Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. A once-bitter Trump foe, Graham became one of his closest allies during his presidency, then lambasted him over last week's Capitol invasion but has since spent time with Trump.

Impeaching Trump now would “do great damage to the institutions of government and could invite further violence," Graham said in a statement. He said Trump's millions of backers “should not be demonized because of the despicable actions of a seditious mob," but he did not specifically defend Trump's actions last week.

“If there was a time for America’s political leaders to bend a knee and ask for God’s counsel and guidance, it is now. The most important thing for leaders to do in times of crisis is to make things better, not worse," Graham said.

When the Senate voted against removing Trump in February after the House impeached him for pressuring Ukraine to provide political dirt on Biden, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, was the only Republican who cast a vote to oust him.

With the House in session to debate impeachment on Wednesday, the Capitol increasingly resembled a heavily defended compound as law enforcement braced for the possibility of more attacks by armed Trump supporters. The Capitol and nearby office buildings were surrounded by seven-foot-tall fencing and armed National Guard troops patrolled its grounds.

Trump has falsely insisted that November’s presidential election was stolen from him by fraud. Those allegations have been rejected by state officials of both parties, state and federal courts and members of his own administration.


AP congressional correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News
© Copyright 2021
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Advocacy group: Biden should revamp US human rights policy
Human Rights Watch is calling on President-elect Joe Biden to bring “fundamental change” to U_S_ policy on human rights and allow criminal investigations of President Donald Trump to “show that the president is not above the law.”
1:03PM ( 4 minutes ago )
NTSB says vehicle battery fires pose risks to 1st responders
U.S. safety investigators say electric vehicle fires pose risks to first responders, and manufacturers have inadequate guidelines to keep them safe
1:01PM ( 7 minutes ago )
More companies pause contributions to Hawley, others
Several more companies have suspended campaign contributions to Sen. Josh Hawley in the wake of last week’s attack at the U.S. Capitol, and a political action committee of Republicans opposed to President Donald Trump is pressuring remaining Missouri donors to abandon the GOP senator
12:58PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
NYC to terminate Trump contracts after Capitol insurrection
Mayor Bill de Blasio says New York City will terminate business contracts with President Donald Trump after last week’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol
12:40PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Sephora to fight against racial bias with an action plan
Global beauty retailer Sephora plans to increase the diversity in its product offerings and offer more inclusive marketing as part of a wide-ranging plan to combat racially biased experiences and unfair treatment for shoppers
12:35PM ( 33 minutes ago )
The Latest: Graham says impeachment would `do great damage'
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina says the impeachment effort being pushed by House Democrats could “do great damage to the institutions of government” and he’s warning his GOP colleagues not to support it
12:11PM ( 56 minutes ago )
AP National News
Colombia struggles to keep social leaders safe
Colombia is widely seen as one of the world’s most dangerous places to be a community leader or an advocate for human rights or environmental issues
10:44AM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Putin orders expansion of vaccination effort
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has ordered his government to expand the vaccination effort
10:23AM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Dems say Trump message to mob was unmistakable
Democratic lawmakers have opened the historic impeachment effort in the House by saying that every moment Donald Trump is in the White House the nation is in danger
10:18AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Italian PM Conte faces power test as Renzi plays spoiler
The fate of Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte's government is hanging in the balance as it awaits to learn if a coalition partner would pull out its ministers
12:11PM ( 57 minutes ago )
Airbnb to block, cancel reservations ahead of inauguration
Airbnb says it will be blocking and cancelling all reservations in the Washington, D
11:02AM ( 2 hours ago )
Ivanka Trump's global women's program halfway toward goal
Ivanka Trump's global women's development program is about halfway toward its goal of helping 50 million women in developing countries get ahead economically by 2025
10:37AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Asian stocks mixed after Wall St rebounds from uncertainty
Asian stock markets are mixed after Wall Street rebounded, shrugging off uncertainty about a possible new attempt to impeach President Donald Trump
2:16AM ( 10 hours ago )
North Korea ends party meeting with calls for nuclear might
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed all-out efforts to bolster his country’s nuclear deterrent during a major ruling party meeting where he earlier laid out plans to work toward salvaging the broken economy
12:43AM ( 12 hours ago )
'Safest place in Washington' no more. A reporter's disbelief
An Associated Press reporter covering Congress, Mary Clare Jalonick cannot stop watching the videos that captured the chaos she lived through last week in the U.S. Capitol
12:17AM ( 12 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Advocacy group: Biden should revamp US human rights policy
Human Rights Watch is calling on President-elect Joe Biden to bring “fundamental change” to U_S_ policy on human rights and allow criminal investigations of President Donald Trump to “show that the president is not above the law.”
1:03PM ( 4 minutes ago )
NTSB says vehicle battery fires pose risks to 1st responders
U.S. safety investigators say electric vehicle fires pose risks to first responders, and manufacturers have inadequate guidelines to keep them safe
1:01PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Amazon seeks to keep conservative app Parler offline
Seattle-based Amazon
12:54PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Turkey approves China-based Sinovac vaccine's emergency use
Turkish authorities have given the go-ahead for the emergency use of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd
12:53PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Trump on verge of 2nd impeachment after Capitol siege
President Donald Trump is on the verge of being impeached for a second time, with an afternoon vote expected in the House
12:50PM ( 17 minutes ago )