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McConnell says he'll vote to acquit Trump

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBipartisanship has become a partisan weapon Washington showing signs of normalcy after year of restrictions Former OMB pick Neera Tanden to serve as senior adviser to Biden MORE (R-Ky.) said Saturday that he will vote to acquit former President TrumpDonald TrumpFranklin Graham says Trump comeback would 'be a very tough thing to do' Man suspected in wife's disappearance accused of casting her ballot for Trump Stefanik: Cheney is 'looking backwards' MORE, ending weeks of speculation about what he would do.

McConnell's decision, confirmed to The Hill by a GOP senator, comes hours before the Senate is expected to take a final vote on whether to convict Trump of "high crimes and misdemeanors" over an article accusing him of inciting insurrection during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

McConnell has criticized Trump's role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, including saying the former president "provoked" the mob. He disclosed to reporters last month that he hadn't spoken to Trump, with whom he aligned himself closely for years, since Dec. 15.

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But he also kept his caucus guessing on how he would ultimately vote, saying that he wanted to listen to the arguments from both House impeachment managers and Trump's legal team.

"Based on his comments over the past two months, I really had no idea what he was going to do," said Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntMissouri Republicans move to block Greitens in key Senate race On The Money: Biden, Senate GOP take step toward infrastructure deal as other plans hit speed bumps Senate GOP to give Biden infrastructure counteroffer next week MORE (R-Mo.), a member of GOP leadership.

"I think he said everybody should make this decision on their own," Blunt added. "I guess he thought that would apply to him as well, and he didn't share much."

McConnell announced his decision in an email to the caucus on Saturday morning.

Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerAll congressional Democrats say they have been vaccinated: CNN Senate passes bipartisan B water infrastructure bill Biden administration faces big decision on whether to wade into Dakota Access fight MORE (R-N.D.) appeared skeptical that McConnell's decision would sway undecided GOP senators.

"Mitch has been so clear and so respectful of each individual senator's conscience," he said.

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GOP leadership hadn't whipped the decision, meaning it isn't leaning on Republicans about how to ultimately vote.

Trump is expected to be acquitted at the end of the second trial, after a days-long proceeding in the Senate.

If every Democrat votes to convict him, they would still need 17 GOP votes. Only a handful are viewed as undecided and potential swing votes.