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McConnell says he's undecided on whether to vote to convict Trump

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBudowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Biden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear McConnell faces conservative backlash over Trump criticism MORE (R-Ky.) sent a note to Republican colleagues Wednesday afternoon informing them that he remains undecided on whether to convict President TrumpDonald TrumpClinton, Bush, Obama reflect on peaceful transition of power on Biden's Inauguration Day Arizona Republican's brothers say he is 'at least partially to blame' for Capitol violence Biden reverses Trump's freeze on .4 billion in funds MORE on an article of impeachment expected to be passed by the House.

“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 wrote in a note to colleagues, an excerpt of which was made public by his office.

McConnell made his statement after The New York Time reported Tuesday that the GOP leader has told associates he believes Trump has committed impeachable offenses.

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The Times also reported that McConnell has told associates that he is pleased Democrats are moving to impeach Trump because it will make it easier for the Republican Party to break with the president once he leaves office.

Republican sources say McConnell will not again serve as one of Trump’s principal defenders as he did a year ago when he led staunch defense against two articles of impeachment passed by the House in December 2019.

A year ago, McConnell called two articles of impeachment “purely political” after they both failed to gain a single Republican vote in the House.

The GOP leader warned that Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP operative installed as NSA top lawyer placed on administrative leave: reports Budowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Biden taps career civil servants to acting posts at State, USAID, UN MORE (D-Calif.) had “taken our nation down a dangerous road” and called for the Senate not to bless what he called an “unprecedented and dangerous” process.

McConnell has not leveled any similar attack or criticism against the new article of impeachment, which the House is expected to pass Wednesday.

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A Republican official told The Hill on Tuesday that McConnell is “genuinely furious about what happened last week and what led up to it.”

Five Senate Republicans have either called on Trump to resign, blamed him for inciting the crowd that stormed the Capitol last week or have signaled they would consider voting to convict the president on an article of impeachment. They are Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMcConnell faces conservative backlash over Trump criticism GOP senators praise Biden's inauguration speech Biden urges Americans to join together in appeal for unity MORE (R-Alaska), Ben SasseBen SasseBudowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Pompeo labels China's treatment of Uighurs 'genocide' GOP senators wrestle with purging Trump from party MORE (R-Neb.), Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyGovernment used Patriot Act to gather website visitor logs in 2019 Appeals court rules NSA's bulk phone data collection illegal Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel MORE (R-Pa.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP senators praise Biden's inauguration speech LIVE INAUGURATION COVERAGE: Biden signs executive orders; press secretary holds first briefing The Memo: Biden prepares for sea of challenges MORE (R-Maine) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyBudowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Biden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear Romney: Founders didn't intend pardons to be used for 'cronies' MORE (R-Utah).

But several GOP senators have also argued against a second impeachment trial, which would not begin until President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenKaty Perry and her 'Firework' close out inauguration TV special Arizona Republican's brothers say he is 'at least partially to blame' for Capitol violence Tom Hanks: After years of 'troubling rancor,' Inauguration Day 'is about witnessing the permanence of our American ideal' MORE is sworn into office and Trump is no longer president.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamMcConnell faces conservative backlash over Trump criticism Schumer becomes new Senate majority leader Senate presses Biden's pick for secretary of State on Iran, China, Russia and Yemen MORE (R-S.C.), one of Trump’s closest confidants in the Senate, warned Wednesday that Republican senators “who legitimize this process” would be “doing great damage not only to the country [and] the future of the presidency, but also to the party.”

“The millions who have supported President Trump and his agenda should not be demonized because of the despicable actions of a seditious mob,” Graham said.

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Sens. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottGOP senator questions constitutionality of an impeachment trial after Trump leaves office Biden's minimum wage push faces uphill battle with GOP GOP senators wrestle with purging Trump from party MORE (R-S.C.) and Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesBiden recommits US to Paris climate accord Yellen champions big spending at confirmation hearing McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time MORE (R-Mont.) have also spoken out against another Senate impeachment trial as something that would further divide the country.

“An impeachment vote will only lead to more hate and a deeply fractured nation. I oppose impeaching President Trump,” Scott said Tuesday.

McConnell’s staff informed Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSchumer becomes new Senate majority leader US Chamber of Commerce to Biden, Congress: Business community 'ready to help' Why pretend senators can 'do impartial justice'? MORE’s (D-N.Y.) staff Wednesday that the GOP leader will not agree to reconvening the Senate before Jan. 19, the date which the two leaders agreed to for when senators should resume business after a recess.

McConnell asserted in a note circulated to colleagues last week that no business of any kind will be allowed to take place on the Senate floor until Jan. 19 unless all 100 senators agree.

That means the House impeachment managers would not be able to present the articles of impeachment to the Senate any sooner than Jan. 19 and the impeachment trial could not begin before 1 p.m. on Jan. 20, at which point Biden will be president.