Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he thinks President Trump has committed impeachable offenses following the violent attacks on the Capitol building last week, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
The reported comments from the majority leader come as Republicans grapple with how to respond to Democratic impeachment efforts and the fallout from the deadly Capitol riots last week. Five people died as a result of the events at the Capitol, including a Capitol Police officer that served on the force for 12 years.
Trump is under scrutiny for encouraging his supporters before the attacks last Wednesday to march to the Capitol “to show strength” and “fight like hell” in opposition to the Electoral College count. He had previously requested his supporters come to D.C. to protest on the day Congress was slated to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win.
Citing people familiar with his thinking, the Times reported that McConnell is pleased that Democrats are pushing to impeach Trump in his final days, saying he thinks it’ll make it easier for the Republican Party to distance itself from the president.
According to the Times, McConnell has said he wants to examine the language of the article of impeachment the House plans to pass Wednesday against Trump, which alleges that the president incited violence against the U.S. government.
The effort is expected to receive support from about a dozen Republicans after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol and breached security, broke windows, vandalized offices, and forced lawmakers to evacuate into undisclosed locations to hide from the rioters.
The Senate majority leader has indicated in private conversations that impeachment gives the GOP an opportunity to part from Trump, who McConnell credits with losing the Senate for Republicans.
In runoff elections in Georgia earlier this month, Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler lost to their Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, giving Democrats a slim majority in the upper chamber with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote.
Officials briefed on the conversation told the Times that Biden called McConnell to ask whether the Senate could work to confirm his Cabinet at the same time as a Senate impeachment trial. McConnell reportedly told Biden he’d ask the Senate parliamentarian and get back shortly.
David Popp, a spokesman for McConnell, declined to comment to the Times, instead citing the leader’s speech on the floor on the day of the Capitol raid.
The Hill has reached out to McConnell’s office for comment.
“This failed attempt to obstruct the Congress, this failed insurrection, only underscores how crucial the task before us is for our Republic,” McConnell said last Wednesday. “Our nation was founded precisely so that the free choice of the American people is what shapes our self-government and determines the destiny of our nation.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has asked other Republicans whether he should urge the president to resign after last week’s events, three Republican officials briefed on the conversations told the newspaper.
McCarthy has also privately considered impeachment before arriving at his current position against impeachment but open to censure.
Trump on Tuesday said his speech at the demonstration before the riots were “totally appropriate” in remarks to reporters.