Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday that he won’t dismiss the charges against Donald Trump before he’s even gone to trial in the Senate, The Hill reports. It marks the second time that the Kentucky Senator has dismissed out of hand the idea that he’ll end Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate before it even begins.
If the House of Representatives approves articles of impeachment against President Trump, which at this point is far from certain but is certainly not outside the realm of possibility, he would then be put on trial in the Senate. There, a two-thirds majority vote (67 votes) would be required to remove him from office.
As Senate Majority Leader, McConnell holds considerable power in how that trial will play out. And indeed, he has at least two tools in his belt that he could use, at least in theory, to prevent the trial from ever happening in the first place.
One option would be to simply not schedule any hearings related to the trial. That’s highly unlikely; back in March, McConnell told NPR News that if Trump is impeached, there would be a Senate trial, no two ways about it.
“If it [impeachment] were to happen, the Senate has no choice. If the House were to act, the Senate immediately goes into a trial,” he said at the time.
Another option would be for him to schedule a vote to dismiss the charges against Trump before the first witness is heard. That option is also off the table, as he told reporters today.
“I don’t think there’s any question that we have to take up the matter. The rules of impeachment are very clear, we’ll have to have a trial. My own view is that we should give people the opportunity to put the case on,” he said.
At least one Senate Republican, McConnell’s Kentucky colleague Rand Paul, has suggested that the best course of action would be to “quickly” dismiss any articles of impeachment. However, Texas’ John Cornyn, also a Republican, said that it would require 51 votes to dismiss the articles of impeachment before Trump goes to trial, and there aren’t 51 votes in the Senate to do that.
As reported at the time by The Inquisitr, in late September Republican leaders in the Senate issued a memo stating that Donald Trump’s Senate trial must happen, as dictated by the Constitution. The Senate can’t simply refuse to schedule the trial, or attempt even cruder methods, such as locking the doors, the memo says.