President Donald Trump has been letting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) call the shots on impeachment, though the next few weeks may test that odd-couple relationship.
According to the Washington Post, their relationship has become more symbiotic as Trump has come to trust McConnell’s political instincts over time, such as when McConnell advised the President not to withdraw Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh from the confirmation process.
McConnell has become a go-to adviser for Trump as the Ukraine scandal unfolded. When Trump became enraged at Republican lawmakers who criticized him as the details of the pressure campaign became clear, McConnell encouraged him to reach out and win their confidence back rather than attacking them on Twitter.
McConnell told Trump to leave rightwing firebrands — like Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and John Ratcliffe (R-TX) — off his impeachment defense team, despite the President’s inclination to include them. McConnell won.
The Senate Majority Leader has also persuaded Trump to get on board with his no-witness impeachment trial, when the President’s instinct was to use the forum to embarrass former Vice President Joe Biden.
Still, the next few weeks will likely put the President under tremendous strain as the trial heats up and some variables of uncertainty — think the witness vote — attract attention and speculation. Trump tends to follow his own instincts above anyone else’s, and time will tell if McConnell is able to maintain the mercurial President’s trust.