McConnell privately supports impeachment as House moves to charge Trump

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked an attempt to vote on increasing the amount of stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000.

The assessment by McConnell, the most powerful Republican in Congress, emerged on the eve of a House vote

WASHINGTON — Sen. Mitch McConnell, D-Ky., has concluded that President Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses and believes that Democrats’ move to impeach him will make it easier to purge Trump from the party, according to people familiar with McConnell’s thinking.

The private assessment of McConnell, the most powerful Republican in Congress, emerged on the eve of a House vote to formally charge Trump with inciting violence against the country for his role in whipping up a mob of his supporters who stormed the Capitol while lawmakers met to formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

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Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican in the House, announced her intention to support the single charge of high crimes and misdemeanors.

Even before McConnell’s position was known and Cheney had announced her plans, advisers to the Senate Republican leader had already privately speculated that a dozen Republican senators — and possibly more — could ultimately vote to convict Trump in a Senate trial that would follow his impeachment by the House. Seventeen Republicans would be needed to join Democrats in finding him guilty. After that, it would take a simple majority to disqualify Trump from ever again holding public office.

In the House, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, was working on Tuesday to build support for a censure resolution to rebuke the president for his actions.

The Republican Party’s rapid turn against Trump unfolded as the House met into the night on Tuesday to debate and vote on a resolution formally calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to strip the president of his powers, a move that Pence shot down hours before the House passed it along party lines.

In a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Pence argued that the amendment was meant to address medical emergencies or presidential “incapacity” and that using it as “a means of punishment or usurpation” would set a “terrible precedent.”

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With Pence refusing their call, Democrats planned a Wednesday vote on a single article of impeachment charging Trump with “inciting violence against the government of the United States.”

The White House expected roughly two dozen Republicans to support the charge, according to a senior administration official who insisted on anonymity to share a private assessment.

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