While the impeachment efforts against Donald Trump seek to ensure that he can never run for the office of president again, for that to happen the US Senate must convict him in a trial after he leaves office.
The US Senate would have to vote to disqualify him, and get a simple majority, for him to be unable to run for a federal office. In this situation, all eyes are right now on Republican senators and the one who holds the key is Senator Mitch McConnell.
Who is McConnell?
McConnel is a senior senator from Kentucky and current Senate majority leader. So far he has sided with Trump and protected him during the impeachment proceedings.
While he is set to give up his position as majority leader to Democrat Chuck Schumer, even as a minority leader, he can sway the vote.
Why does he hold the key?
The Associated Press reports that Republican leader holds great sway in his party even though convening the trial could be among his last acts as majority leader.
Huffpost reported that if McConnell votes against Trump, more senators — Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania — are likely to follow suit.
The report said that if the veteran Kentucky Republican sticks with Trump, conviction is unlikely. If McConnell votes against Trump, all bets are off as Democrats seek 17 Republican votes they will need for the first-ever Senate conviction in a presidential impeachment trial.
McConnel has told the media that he is undecided on his vote. However, he has told his associates that “he is done with Trump”.
Amid speculation on his decision, McConnell has said, “While the press has been full of speculation, I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate.” McConnell’s public neutrality on impeachment is widely seen as an effort to restrain Trump’s behavior, with an acquittal largely contingent on Trump’s ability to persuade his supporters not to incite more violence.
McConnell’s public neutrality on impeachment is widely seen as an effort to restrain Trump’s behavior, with an acquittal largely contingent on Trump’s ability to persuade his supporters not to incite more violence.
The New York Times reported last week that McConnel was probably in favour of voting against Trump because it would then be easier for him to be purged from the Republican party.