Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not determined whether President Trump should be convicted in upcoming Senate proceedings, according to a letter he shared with Republican colleagues moments after the House voted for impeachment Wednesday evening.
"I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate," wrote McConnell, who also blocked a quick trial by denying a request to reconvene the Senate early. McConnell is expected to lose his role as majority leader in the next Congress with the Democrats gaining a one-seat majority with the vote of vice president-elect Kamala Harris.
Donald Trump is the first American leader in history to face impeachment twice after the House of Representatives voted 232 to 197 on Wednesday to impeach the outgoing president for inciting insurrection last week that culminated in a violent siege at Congress.
The second trial comes just 13 months after articles of impeachment first brought by Democrats against the president in 2019 for charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Ten Republicans in the House of Representatives broke party ranks and voted to impeach Trump on Wednesday in an about-face from 2019's impeachment proceedings. The president will now face trial in the Senate but with only seven days left in office, the proceedings will likely occur after president-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20.
McConnell rejected Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's request to reconvene the Senate this week in anticipation of the House sending over articles of impeachment, meaning Trump's trial will not happen before Jan. 19.
Democrats will take narrow control of the Senate come Jan. 20 thanks to two victories in Georgia runoff elections this month, but impeachment requires a supermajority and cannot happen without the cooperation of Senate Republicans.
As the most powerful Republican in Washington after Biden becomes president, GOP senators will look to McConnell for direction during the impeachment vote.
Meanwhile, Democratic Party members in both houses continue to plead for Republicans to vote against Trump and have pressured the Senate Majority Leader to bring the trial date forward.
"Donald Trump is a clear danger to our country and our democracy. Mitch McConnell must bring the articles of impeachment to the Senate floor as soon as possible for a final verdict," said Oregon's Democrat Senator Ron Wyden after the House of Representatives' vote.
If impeached, Trump will not be eligible to run for president again in 2024 and will lose his $1 million annual pension as well as Secret Service protection after he leaves office.
The outgoing president displayed little contrition in a video released on Wednesday evening in which he called for calm but did not mention his upcoming impeachment trial.
"No true supporter of mine could ever disrespect law enforcement or our great American flag," he said in the short clip filmed at the Oval Office, only a week after his followers - draped in the national emblem - were caught on camera beating Capitol police with flag poles.