Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is said to welcome the move to start impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump and that he believes that a second impeachment could help rid the Republican party of the Trump movement, multiple news outlets reported Tuesday.
The New York Times, which was first to report, said McConnell believes Trump committed impeachable offenses ahead of last week's deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol. After weeks of claiming -- without proof -- that he lost the election to President-elect Joe Biden due to fraud, Trump encouraged supporters at a rally to march to the Capitol. Hundreds stormed the building. Five people were killed in the mayhem.
Fox News and CNN, citing sources, backed up parts of the Times report. They noted that it's not yet clear if McConnell will vote to impeach should it reach the Senate. The Times reports he wants to see the specific article first.
But a Senate GOP source tells CNN that if McConnell votes to convict, it likely means there will be 67 senators to support it -- the minimum necessary for a conviction. With a 50-50 Senate, and assuming all Democrats vote to convict, that means 17 Republicans must do so as well.
Fox reports that McConnell does not see this impeachment as partisan exercise like last year's impeachment over the Ukraine scandal.
McConnell has explicitly criticized Trump’s drive to overturn Biden’s election, saying it would “damage our republic forever.” He did so even as the mob breached the Capitol and lunged toward the chambers against outnumbered police.
Sources to Fox describe McConnell as "furious" and "done" with Trump. CNN reported that the relationship between McConnell and Trump has "essentially collapsed."
The House could vote on an article of impeachment as early as Wednesday. At least five Republicans have announced they will vote in favor of impeachment, including Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wy., the third-ranking GOP member in the House.
If Trump is impeached, it would then go to a Senate trial which can still occur even after he leaves office next week. If convicted, which requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate, Trump could be barred from running for president again.
The Times reports Biden talked to McConnell about whether it's possible to confirm Biden's Cabinet nominees at the same time a Senate trial is underway. McConnell reportedly promised to get back to him quickly with an answer. But it's possible a trial would not start until after Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer becomes the new majority leader.
McConnell's wife, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, resigned from Trump's Cabinet the day after the riot.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.