US Senate Minority Leader McConnell signals to Republicans that Trump impeachment is a conscience vote

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested that he hasn't made up his mind how he'll vote.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested that he hasn't made up his mind how he'll vote.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is signalling to fellow Republicans that the final vote on Mr 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 has not made up his mind how he would vote, two of the people said, even though he voted on Tuesday (Feb 9) to declare it unconstitutional for the Senate to hear the case against a former president.

That position is starkly different than Mr McConnell's declaration at the start of Mr Trump's first impeachment trial last year that he did not consider himself an impartial juror.

It is highly unlikely that the Senate will convict Mr Trump of the House's single impeachment charge of inciting an insurrection, which cited the former president's actions surrounding the Jan 6 attack on the Capitol.

Conviction requires a two-thirds majority, which means at least 17 Republicans would have to vote with all Democrats in the 50-50 chamber.

Only six Republicans on Tuesday voted in favour of the constitutionality of the Senate process. While that was enough for the simple majority required to proceed with the trial, it suggests that most GOP senators do not want to vote against Mr Trump.

Mr McConnell, in a leadership meeting on Monday night, said the same things he has said publicly, a person familiar with the matter said.