(FiveNation.com)- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has decided not to use his power as the head of the Republican caucus to influence other members of his party to acquit former President Donald Trump.
As Minority Leader, McConnell could easy whip other GOP Senators into acquitting Trump in his impeachment trial that is ongoing in the Senate. He’s done so on many other occasions to get the rank-and-file in order so the Republican Party is united on a front.
Now, though, other Republican Senators have said the leader of their caucus has taken no definitive action to do that. Senators have talked about their individual thoughts about the impeachment trial behind closed doors, The Hill reported, but so far, McConnell’s remarks have been limited to only the timeline and procedural steps.
As North Dakota Senator Kevin Cramer said:
“He’s never really talked about it to us. Mitch is a very good tactician … but he’s also very respectful that every senator got here on their own.”
One of McConnell’s advisers, Ohio Senator Rob Portman, said he hasn’t decided yet whether he’ll vote to convict Trump. He also said he wasn’t receiving pressure from McConnell or other members of the Republican Senate leadership. He said:
“I don’t think I’ve gotten any guidance. Colleagues have stood up and expressed their views, but they’re not representing leadership … [McConnell] has said, I think this is a vote of conscience.”
For his part, McConnell hasn’t specifically answered questions publicly about whether he would be open to voting to convict Trump. For much of Trump’s time in the White House, McConnell lined up right behind him. That seemed to change toward the end of his tenure, once the presidential election was over.
McConnell told reporters recently that he was undecided on his stance in the impeachment trial. He said he wanted to hear all the arguments that were presented at trial before making a final decision.
On Wednesday, reporters pressed him as to whether he was still undecided. He responded:
“I want to listen to the arguments. I think that’s what we ought to do. That’s what I said before it started. That’s still my view.”
A Bloomberg report revealed more information about it:
“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is signaling to fellow Republicans that the final vote on Donald Trump’s impeachment is matter of conscience and that senators who disputed the constitutionality of the trial could still vote to convict the former president, according to three people familiar with his thinking.
“The Kentucky Republican has also suggested that he hasn’t made up his mind how he’ll vote, two of the people said, even though he voted Tuesday to declare it unconstitutional for the Senate to hear the case against a former president.
“That position is starkly different than McConnell’s declaration at the start of Trump’s first impeachment trial last year that he did not consider himself an impartial juror.”
McConnell’s moves in recent months have been trending sharply against Trump and his wing of supporters within the Republican Party. It could end up in his demise as a leader of the GOP in the Senate.