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McConnell to move to acquit Trump in Senate trial: report

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP increasingly balks at calling Jan. 6 an insurrection Black lawmakers warn against complacency after Juneteenth victory Graham quips key to working with Trump: We both 'like him' MORE (R-Ky.) is expected to hold a vote to acquit President TrumpDonald TrumpHead of firms that pushed 'Italygate' theory falsely claimed VA mansion was her home: report Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting VA moving to cover gender affirmation surgery through department health care MORE should the president ultimately be impeached in the House rather than move to dismiss any articles of impeachment sent from the lower chamber.

CNN, citing two Republican senators, reported Thursday that the Senate GOP wants to have a vote for acquittal to try to clear the president of any wrongdoing stemming from his dealings with Ukraine rather than a majority vote to simply dismiss impeachment.

The Constitution requires articles of impeachment to garner 67 votes in support in order to convict and remove Trump, and the GOP, which holds a 53-47 majority in the chamber, is reportedly certain it can keep the vote from hitting the two-thirds threshold. 

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An unidentified senator told CNN that McConnell would not call a vote to proceed to the House’s articles of impeachment unless he knew he had at least 51 votes to end the Senate trial, which would then trigger a vote on the articles themselves.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynBlack lawmakers warn against complacency after Juneteenth victory The Senate is where dreams go to die Federal government to observe Juneteenth holiday on Friday MORE (R-Texas), who is close to McConnell, added to the network that it "would make more sense" to move to vote to acquit on the articles of impeachment than on a motion to dismiss and "decide this on a 51-vote threshold, with the potential tie and all the recriminations that would flow from that."

McConnell declined to clarify his strategy to reporters during a press conference earlier this week, but hinted senators may have “heard enough” to acquit Trump. 

"It could go down the path of calling witnesses and basically having another trial or it could decide — and again, 51 members could make that decision — that they've heard enough and believe they know what would happen and could move to vote on the two articles of impeachment," he said. "Those are the options. No decisions have been made yet."

McConnell's office directed The Hill to the leader's comments Tuesday when asked for comment on the CNN report.

The House is currently debating two articles of impeachment for Trump: abuse of power for pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe Biden 64 percent of Iowans say 'time for someone else' to hold Grassley's Senate seat: poll Philadelphia shooting leaves 2 dead, injures toddler Ron Johnson booed at Juneteenth celebration in Wisconsin MORE, a chief political rival, and alleged 2016 election interference, and obstructing Congress for barring several administration officials from testifying in front of Congress.

The House Judiciary Committee began holding a public discussion on the two articles of impeachment Wednesday evening, which will continue into Thursday.