The Kentucky Republican is said to be pleased that Democrats are moving forward with impeachment in reaction to the Wednesday siege of the Capitol, according to sources for the New York Times. The sources also said McConnell shared that he sees the process as being a convenient opportunity to purge the president from the GOP.
McConnell's office did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner's request for comment, but the report said his spokesperson referred a reporter to his floor speech after pro-Trump rioters breached the building as lawmakers counted electoral votes and affirmed President-elect Joe Biden's victory. During those remarks, McConnell said the "failed insurrection" only underscored their task.
McConnell's wife, Elaine Chao, resigned as transportation secretary last week, citing the riots.
Democrats quickly seized on the report.
"I don't often agree with the Senator from Kentucky, but I'm glad he agrees that the President is not above accountability and consequences for last week's insurrection," Rep. Cindy Axne of Iowa tweeted.
The House is set to vote on Wednesday on the charge that the president incited "violence against the government of the United States."
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has publicly expressed that he is opposed to impeaching the president. However, the New York Times reported that he and other Republican leaders have decided not to lobby their other members to vote "no."
Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House, announced she would vote to impeach Trump shortly after the report was published.
"The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled this mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing," the congresswoman from Wyoming said. "The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution. I will vote to impeach the president."
If an article of impeachment does pass the House and makes its way to the Senate after the president has left office, Democrats may still choose to push the matter, given that convicting the president would mean he would never be able to hold federal office again. A two-thirds vote is needed to convict.
Legal scholars have debated whether impeachment proceedings can be pursued against former presidents.
Trump was first impeached by the Democratic-controlled House in December 2019 on two Ukraine-related charges but was acquitted by the GOP-led Senate.