Mitch McConnell Says He'll Vote to Acquit Trump as Senate Decides Not to Call Witnesses in Impeachment Trial

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has finally indicated how he will vote in former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

McConnell, who previously declined to indicate his position, reportedly told his GOP colleagues that he will vote to acquit Trump, sources told CNN and Politico. 

"While a close call, I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we therefore lack jurisdiction," McConnell, 78, wrote in a message to colleagues, according to Politico.

"The Constitution makes it 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," McConnell added.  

Although Trump was impeached by the House of Democrats for a second time days before he left office, the Senate trial did not begin until after President Joe Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration.

A spokesperson for McConnell did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

McConnell, who has long been a powerful political ally for Trump, has placed blame on the outgoing president, 74, for his role in inciting the deadly U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6.

"The mob was fed lies," he said during remarks on the Senate floor last month, before Trump's second impeachment trial began. "They were provoked by the president and other powerful people."

McConnell previously helped guide the Senate's GOP majority towards acquitting Trump in early 2020, after Trump was impeached in December 2019 on two charges connected to his role in the Ukraine scandal.

Trump is largely expected to be acquitted again. It would require 17 Republican senators to vote guilty with the Democratic majority.

Although it was initially expected that a final decision could come as early as this weekend, on Saturday, the Senate voted to call witnesses — before ultimately deciding to go ahead with the vote.

The vote was 55-44, with five Republicans crossing party lines to extend the trial: Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse and Lindsay Graham, who initially voted no before changing his vote.

Although the motion was approved, Democrats and Trump's legal team reached an agreement to not call witnesses and proceed with the final vote, according to The Washington Post. A final vote is expected to be delivered later on Saturday, following the conclusion of closing arguments.

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