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Big Question in DC: How Will Mitch Vote?

Senate GOP leader expected to favor acquittal of Trump, but doubt lingers
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2021 1:52 PM CST

(Newser) – What will Mitch do? That's one big topic of conversation regarding the upcoming vote on former President Trump's impeachment. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blamed Trump for provoking the Capitol rioters and signaled his support for the trial now underway, notes the Washington Post. But whether he will vote to convict is a separate issue. After all, he has voted twice to end the trial because he says it's unconstitutional to try a former president. Still, he has not tipped his hand this week about his ultimate vote, saying he wants to hear the arguments on both sides. An analysis at Politico Playbook suggests McConnell will probably vote to acquit, but it also lays out a scenario for the opposite result. For one thing, McConnell is 78, and there's no guarantee he will run again in 2026, meaning this could be a "legacy-defining" vote for him, writes Ryan Lizza.

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He notes that one of McConnell's political mentors was the late Sen. John Sherman Cooper, who explained to a young McConnell why he took a stand in favor of civil rights even over the protests of many of his constituents. “There are times you follow, and times when you lead,” Cooper told him. In his memoir, McConnell said he would never forget the lesson that “a true leader is one who doesn’t take a poll on every issue.” Lizza's best guess on how all this might play out: "McConnell will vote to acquit, then issue a blistering rebuke of Trump." As the Hill notes, a complicating factor is that McConnell is trying to lead a party fractured by pro- and anti-Trump camps back to power in the 2022 midterms. For now anyway, McConnell appears to be in the latter camp: He says he and the former president have not spoken since Dec. 15. (Read more Mitch McConnell stories.)

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