Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told fellow GOP senators via email Saturday morning that he will vote to acquit President Trump when his impeachment trial comes to a vote. McConnell, while saying his vote is a “close call”, he believes the Senate lacks jurisdiction as “impeachments are a tool primarily for removal.” McConnell also said concerns about a president engaging in criminal conduct in his last days in office can be addressed prosecution after he leaves office.
McConnell does not make clear whether the “close call” is one of jurisdiction or of Trump’s guilt or innocence.
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Colleagues–as I have said for some time, today’s vote is a vote of conscience and I know we will all treat it as such. I have been asked directly by a number of you how I intend to vote, so thought it right to make that known prior to the final vote.
While a close call, I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we therefore lack jurisdiction.
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.
Given these conclusions, I will vote to acquit. Mitch
McConnell’s statement was first reported by Politico’s Burgess Everett:
McConnell says it was a “close call” but says impeachment is “primarily a tool of removal” and the Senate lacks jurisdiction . He says criminal conduct by a president in office can be prosecuted when the president is out of office pic.twitter.com/JGMTjCp2OL
— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) February 13, 2021
Minority @LeaderMcConnell on his way to the Senate floor for day 5 of the impeachment trial — McConnell told his caucus via email this morning that he will vote to ACQUIT former President Trump pic.twitter.com/BC6C5RvXIt
— Kelly Phares (@kellyfphares) February 13, 2021
The Senate reconvenes at 10 a.m. EST and is expected to conclude today if no witnesses are called.