A source familiar with the matter says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will not weigh in publicly until the House has officially impeached the President.
As CNN’s Manu Raju and Jeff Zeleny have noted, Senate Republicans are in the dark about what will happen next. The expectation is McConnell will send a message to his conference once the House vote is complete laying out the potential timeline.
McConnell is facing a delicate balance – a number of his GOP colleagues have made clear they oppose impeachment and the Kentucky Republican famously loathes anything that divides his conference.
But the source says McConnell is also keenly aware of the moment in history – and the moment for the Republican Party. On the latter issue, the Kentucky Republican knows Trump remains very popular with his base, but is at by far his weakest point.
There’s also nothing left Trump can deliver for McConnell, who largely kept any criticism of Trump to himself the last four years as he pursued career ambitions in terms of overhauling the federal judiciary.
Some context: McConnell’s shift against Trump has been apparent for those watching him closely. He cut off contact with Trump weeks ago and has made clear he has no plans ever to speak to him again.
He carefully crafted his Senate floor remarks on Jan. 6 lambasting the efforts not only of Trump, but also of members of his own conference to push objections to President-elect Biden’s electoral victory.
He did the same when the Senate returned to session after the attack on the Capitol.
His anger over not only what transpired, but Trump’s lack of contrition, led him almost immediately to the conclusion on Trump’s culpability, the source said.
What happens next in terms of the timeline of a trial, as we’ve reported, is still unclear. But make no mistake about where McConnell is positioning himself here. It’s not subtle.