|Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell arrives at the US Capitol for the fifth day of the second impeachment trial of former US President Donald Trump, on February 13, 2021, in Washington, DC. – The US Senate was expected to deliver a verdict in Trump’s trial Saturday after his lawyers argued that the former president bears no responsibility for an attack by supporters on Congress after he failed to win reelection. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)
The US Senate’s top Republican Mitch McConnell revealed Saturday that he will vote against convicting Donald Trump, US media reported, as the impeachment trial of the former president nears its conclusion with a likely acquittal.
While describing the vote on whether to convict as a “close call,” he told colleagues in a letter that “I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we, therefore, lack jurisdiction,” according to Politico which obtained a copy of the message.
“I will vote to acquit,” McConnell added.
The revelation leaves it highly likely that the Senate will fail to reach the two-thirds majority necessary to convict Trump on the single charge of incitement of insurrection for his role in whipping up a mob that besieged the US Capitol on January 6.
With the Senate split 50-50, 17 Republicans would need to defect from the former president in order to reach a conviction.
McConnell remains hugely influential within his party, however, and his acquittal vote will carry weight.
But the top Republican, who broke with the president in December over Trump’s insistence that the election was stolen, signalled in his letter that he does not believe Trump is innocent of wrongdoing.
“The Constitution makes perfectly clear that presidential criminal misconduct while in office can be prosecuted after the president has left office, which in my view alleviates the otherwise troubling ‘January exception argument raised by the House,” McConnell said according to Politico.
House impeachment managers have warned that acquitting Trump would open the door for future presidents to violate their office in the final weeks of their presidency and suffer no accountability.
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