By Zachary Stieber
President Donald Trump will not be removed from office if the House votes to impeach him, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said.
An impeachment triggers a trial in the Senate on the charges alleged by the House. If a president isn’t convicted by two-thirds of the Senators present at the time of the vote, he stays in office. No president in the history of the country has been impeached and removed from office.
“The case is so darn weak coming from the House. We know how it’s going to end. There’s no chance the president’s going to be removed from office,” McConnell said during an interview broadcast on Fox News’s “Hannity” on Thursday night.
He said that he hopes no Republican senators would vote to remove Trump from office—several, including Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), have signaled they might—and at least one Democrat joins the GOP in the vote.
“My hope is that there won’t be a single Republican who votes for either of these articles of impeachment, and Sean, it wouldn’t surprise me if we got one or two Democrats,” McConnell said. “This is a really weak case, and that’s why I think you’re going to see bipartisan opposition to the articles over in the House.”
“It looks to me over in the House, the Republicans seem to be solid and the Democrats seem to be divided,” he added, referring to how two Democrats voted against the impeachment process resolution and others are expected to vote against the articles of impeachment.
McConnell said that the Senate has to hold a trial on impeachment and must focus on the trial as its “sole business” until it’s over. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, would preside over the trial.
“We’ll listen to the opening arguments by the House prosecutors and we’ll listen to the president’s lawyers respond, and then we’ll have to make a decision on the way forward,” McConnell said. “Everything that I do during this, I’m coordinating with the White House counsel. There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this, to the extent that we can.”
McConnell said that Trump’s counsel may decide not to call witnesses.
McConnell accused Democrats of working to impeach Trump since his inauguration, noting an article about impeachment efforts that was published just hours after Trump was sworn in.
“They’ve been trying to do this for three years. They’ve finally screwed up their courage to do it,” he said. “It looks to me like it may be backfiring on them, especially in swing districts that the speaker’s party managed to win in order to get to the majority. Most of the nervousness I see on this issue is on the Democratic side.”