Politico‘s Burgess Everett reports that Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell told GOP colleagues in a brief email that he will vote to acquit President Trump. McConnell says his rationale is that the Senate lacks the constitutional authority to convict a former president:
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
McConnell said in a January 19 floor speech that the “mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people.”
McConnell voted earlier this week that the Senate lacks jurisdiction to hold a trial for a former official, but House impeachment managers argued the duty of senators as jurors now is to consider the jurisdictional question settled and vote on the merits of the case. In 1876, two senators (Newton Booth of California and Richard Oglesby of Illinois) voted that the Senate lacked authority to hold an impeachment trial for a former official (Secretary of War William Belknap) but still voted to convict the former official.