Earlier this year, when confronted with the hypothetical of what the U.S. Senate would do if the House of Representatives voted to issue articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other top Senate GOP leaders made it sound like they would immediately kick such a motion off the floor of the Senate, The Hill noted at the time:
“’I think it would be disposed of very quickly,’ said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC).”
“Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), an adviser to McConnell’s leadership team, said ‘nothing’ would come of impeachment articles passed by the House.”
That was then, when the Russia investigation was the main topic of debate.
Now, however, the calculus has changed, as Trump is accused of trying to rig the 2020 election by dangling military aid to Ukraine if prosecutors in that country would agree to investigate business deals made by Hunter Biden, son of former Vice President Joe Biden, and dig up dirt on the Biden family.
Even McConnell made clear that a trial will indeed be held in the Senate if Trump is impeached by the House, commenting during an appearance on CNBC:
“We’ll follow the Senate rules. I would have no choice but to take it up.”
As HuffPost reports, some had suggested McConnell would never even allow the matter to come to the floor:
“Some news outlets and pundits have speculated that McConnell could simply refuse to hold a trial, likening the move to his refusal to give President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland a confirmation hearing in 2016.”
Now, however, McConnell seems to be indicating that he’s not going to just refuse to hold a trial at all, though he did add:
“’How long you’re on it is a whole different matter,’ McConnell said, noting he could call a vote on a motion to dismiss, which would effectively amount to a vote to acquit Trump of wrongdoing.”
But with public support for impeachment growing by the day — a Quinnipiac poll released Monday showed a 10 percent increase in those favoring impeachment in just a week’s time — McConnell may also be unable so easily dismiss a trial with one vote and then go back to regular business. Doing so could cost him control of the Senate in the 2020 election in addition to losing the White House and being unable to retake control of the House. That would be a nightmare for McConnell and other Republicans, all of whom might suddenly be under both ethical and criminal investigations with Democrats in total control of government.
If Trump was counting on the Senate to provide “protection” for his potentially illegal and unethical acts, it’s beginning to look like he’s all on his own and all bets are off.