Former President Donald J. Trump would have been convicted in last week’s impeachment trial if senators had been allowed to cast ballots in private, according to one of the House Democrats who prosecuted the case.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) could have mustered enough Republican votes to convict Trump, said Plaskett, but made his own calculation about hanging on to his leadership position. Seven Republicans crossed the aisle and voted against Trump, well short of the 17 needed to form a supermajority of two-thirds.
“He could have brought 17 over,” said Plaskett, “but I think he knew that he needed to bring over more than half of his caucus, because without half of his caucus he would not be able to maintain his minority leadership.” That would be 25, plus McConnell himself.
Plaskett told Zenger that McConnell is “obsessed with maintaining his place of power.” He doesn’t like Trump, she said, but saw the former president as “a means to an end.”
Reached on Monday, McConnell communications director David Popp had no comment but referred Zenger to McConnell’s floor speech after the trial concluded — in which he argued the impeachment itself was unconstitutional even though Trump’s behavior was worthy of condemnation.
‘>“the campaign of disinformation and rage that provoked” the deadly Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Trump, now uniquely acquitted in two impeachment trials, is free to run for office again. But Plaskett said House Democrats achieved a key goal anyway.
‘>“I can recall a couple of points in time looking at them and seeing senators nodding in agreement with me, shaking their head in disgust, and even some tearing up. And all of those that I just said did that were not the ones who voted with us,” she said. “I don’t trust them, so it didn’t really move me.”
(Edited by David Martosko and Kristen Butler, Visuals Produced by Claire Swift, Jorge Diaz and Allison Itz, Director of Photography, Todd Nash)
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