Sep 25, 2019 - Politics & Policy

How impeachment is playing with Senate Republicans

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to the media after attending the Republican weekly policy luncheon on Capitol Hill, September 17

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to the media Sept. 17. Washington, D.C. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused House Democrats of a "rush to judgment," as he led Republican attacks on Speaker Nancy Pelosi's announcement of the opening of a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

Why it matters: Articles of impeachment would ultimately be decided by a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate.

  • Per the New York Times, there is no "obvious enforcement mechanism" if McConnell were to refuse to hold a trial for a president impeached by the House.

The big picture: The allegations that Trump may have pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate 2020 candidate Joe Biden led to swing district Democrats and influential holdouts to endorse impeachment, prompting to Pelosi to act.

  • McConnell noted that the Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to pass a resolution calling for the White House to release to the Senate Intelligence Committee the whistleblower complaint that allegedly involves Trump and Ukraine.

What they're saying: Trump loyalists like Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) were confident any articles of impeachment would be quashed in the chamber, according to The Hill.

  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, told the news outlet, "You can’t tell me they’re talking about impeachment when the president is cooperating with them 100 percent to release these things. It’s premature to talk about impeachment."
  • Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) told Politico the Democrats' action was putting them "on a path to re-elect the president."

Yes, but: Some Republicans have been more cautious in their approach. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney has led the charge on the issue, calling for the release of the whistleblower complaint, adding that it would be "very helpful to get [to] the bottom of the facts."

  • Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) suggested while meeting with the caucus on Tuesday afternoon "that we get the facts before people start jumping to conclusions," Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told Politico.
  • Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) told Politico that Trump's conversations with Zelensky about Biden and his son, along with reports of the whistleblower complaint, were a "serious issue."
  • Gardner declined to say whether he still supported the president's re-election, telling Politico, "Let’s find out what’s happening. Let’s get to the bottom of this."

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