Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has reportedly told those close to him that he believes President Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses by supporting insurrectionists who violently attacked the U.S. Capitol last week, an incredible shift in thinking as Democrats take steps to remove the president from office.
McConnell has privately indicated he is pleased with the Democrats’ effort, The New York Times reported Tuesday. The president has faced a growing chorus to resign or be removed following the riot in the halls of Congress, which left five people dead.
The senator excoriated the mob just hours after it attacked the Capitol, calling participants “thugs” and saying the chamber would not “bow to lawlessness or intimidation.”
“The United States and the United States Congress have faced down much greater threats than the unhinged crowd we saw today,” he said last Wednesday, just after the riot. “We have never been deterred before and we will not be deterred today. They tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed.”
McConnell’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The House plans to vote Wednesday on impeachment and will allege the president incited violence against the country.
Trump spent months undercutting the results of the 2020 election, which he lost to President-elect Joe Biden by more than 7 million votes, and posted several messages of support for the insurrectionists before and after they stormed the Capitol. The president’s comments got his personal Twitter account banned permanently, and other social media giants have restricted his ability to post until at least the end of his administration.
This incarnation of impeachment has already garnered far more Republican support than the last.
The Times reported that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has spoken with his allies to see if he should join a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers calling for Trump’s resignation. McCarthy has publicly opposed another impeachment trial, saying it would “divide our country more,” but has reportedly decided not to campaign for members of his party to vote “no” on any articles.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was the first Republican senator to call for Trump’s resignation, saying she wants “him out” and that Trump had “caused enough damage.”
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the No. 3 Republican in the chamber, has said she will vote in favor of impeachment, and around a dozen House Republicans may join her.
Trump has just over a week left in his term and has in recent days pledged an “orderly transition” of power, although he has also said he will not attend Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
Democrats say even a few more days of Trump in the White House will be too many.
“In protecting our Constitution and our Democracy, we will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat to both,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday. “As the days go by, the horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this President is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”
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