Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) have in recent days warmed up to punishments for President Donald Trump called for by Democrats, according to a new report in the New York Times.
McConnell is privately pleased that Democrats are pursuing a second Trump impeachment, the report says, hoping that it will ease scrubbing the President from the party.
McCarthy reportedly asked around the Republican conference about whether he should ask Trump to resign, and made overtures to Democrats on the topic of a censure, though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has already rejected the idea out of hand.
The stances of the leading Republicans, whether purposefully leaked or not, may free up other Republicans to support impeachment. The leaders have already been sending signals that they won’t try to control how people vote, abstaining from whipping the caucus like they did last impeachment. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) encouraged House Republicans on a Monday call to “vote your conscience.”
Indeed, on Tuesday afternoon, Rep. John Katko (R-NY) became the first House Republican to say that he will vote for the President’s impeachment. The entire House Republican caucus, including Katko, voted against impeachment last time.
McConnell also, per the Times, told President-Elect Joe Biden he’d check with the Senate parliamentarian and get him a speedy answer on the possibility of the Senate doing bifurcated days: impeachment trial in the morning, confirming Biden’s nominees in the afternoon, or vice versa.
The matter of Senate scheduling has been a preoccupation for Democrats who want Biden’s nominees — particularly those of national security import — to be confirmed as soon as possible, given the current climate.
Some Democrats are urging Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to use an obscure post-9/11 power to pressure McConnell to reconvene the Senate early.