Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has gone silent on the Democrat-led House impeachment inquiry, largely avoiding public statements on the subject in recent days.
The Republican leader told CNBC’s Squawk Alley last month that the Senate would have no choice but to take up an impeachment resolution if it proceeds in the House.
“It’s a Senate rule related to impeachment, it would take 67 votes to change, so I would have no choice but to take it up,” McConnell said. “How long you’re on it is a whole different matter.”
However, as the impeachment inquiry continues to heat up, McConnell has become increasingly withdrawn.
According to The Hill, the Kentucky senator has largely refrained from making public statements on the subject in recent days:
McConnell held an event last week in Kentucky with Defense Secretary Mark Esper, a day after Trump publicly floated that China and Ukraine should investigate Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. But reporters were removed from the event before the audience was allowed to ask questions.
The GOP leader also skipped taking questions reporters this week when speaking at a Federalist Society meeting in Kentucky, as well as a separate event with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar touting a grant for the University of Kentucky.
Asked about McConnell’s thinking and why he’s decided not to weigh in directly on Trump’s calls for Ukraine and China to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a spokesman declined to comment beyond what McConnell has said on the record.
It was reportedly McConnell who urged the White House to release the transcripts of Donald Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. According to reports, McConnell said the release would “bolster the claim that the conversation was not improper because the speculation about what happened was becoming politically untenable,” the Washington Post reported.
The transcript of the call does not show any such “pressure” or quid pro quo, as Democrats suggest.
The president said McConnell described the conversation as “the most innocent phone call,” and the lawmaker told Politico in September that it is “laughable to think this is anywhere close to an impeachable offense.”
“I’ve read the summary of the call. If this is the ‘launching point’ for House Democrats’ impeachment process, they’ve already overplayed their hand,” McConnell told the outlet. “It’s clear there is no quid pro quo that the Democrats were desperately praying for.”
McConnell released an ad this month, slamming Democrats for their impeachment efforts and vowing to stop it as majority leader.
“Nancy Pelosi is in the clutches of a leftwing mob,” McConnell said in the ad. “They finally convinced her to impeach the president.”
“All of you know your Constitution,” he continued. “The way that impeachment stops is with a Senate majority with me as majority leader.”
While it remains clear that McConnell disagrees with the impeachment inquiry, his refusal to elaborate on his position has piqued interest. However, GOP strategists do not view his silence as a reason for alarm.
“Mitch McConnell has learned there is no point in weighing in on every story,” GOP strategist Ford O’Connell said, according to The Hill.
Another GOP strategist, Matt Mackowiak, told The Hill that McConnell does not want to add difficultly for GOP incumbents in at-risk districts.
“He doesn’t like to ever get ahead of the conference, and he always wants to be in a place that’s helpful to both ends,” Mackowiak said.
“And look he’s obviously very much attuned to the risk that some of those incumbents face and he doesn’t want to make their job harder,” he continued. “On the other hand, he also knows the facts are developing.”
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