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Mitch McConnell says he will vote to acquit Trump

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told his fellow Senate Republicans in an email that he will vote to acquit former President Trump in his impeachment trial over the deadly U.S Capitol riot on Jan. 6, two sources familiar with the email told Axios.

Why it matters: McConnell’s acquittal vote will likely shrink the number of Republicans who considered voting to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial, making a conviction on the House’s single charge of “incitement of insurrection” unlikely.

What they’re saying: “As I have said for some time, today’s vote is a vote of conscience and I know we will all treat it as such,” McConnell said in the email, which was first reported by Politico’s Burgess Everett.

  • “I have been asked directly by a number of you how I intend to vote, so thought it right to make that known prior to the final vote. While a close call, I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we there lack jurisdiction.”
  • “The Constitution makes perfectly clear that Presidential criminal misconduct while in office can be prosecuted after the President has left office, which in my view alleviates the otherwise troubling ‘January exception’ argument raised by the House.
  • “Given these conclusions, I will vote to acquit.”

Context: Senators are expected to issue their final vote in the trial later on Saturday. Democrats would need to gain 17 Republican votes to convict the former president.

  • Trump’s team has argued that the trial itself is unconstitutional and quickly concluded their defense on Friday.
  • House impeachment managers said Thursday that Trump repeatedly encouraged violence among his supporters and that encouragement affected not just lawmakers but the largely minority support staff who care for and protect them in the Capitol.

Trump was “thrilled” with his lawyers’ performances on Friday — particularly by Michael van der Veen and David Schoen, both of whom “went full Trump,” one person familiar with the situation told Axios.

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