Mitch McConnell: Senate rules leave ‘no choice’ but to take up impeachment if articles pass House

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With the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives rushing headlong toward impeachment of President Donald Trump, there has been plenty of speculation about how such an effort would fare in the Republican-controlled Senate, or if that body would in fact hold a trial at all.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just put some of those questions to rest, however, by stating that Senate rules would leave him “no choice” but to take up articles of impeachment should they pass the House.

“I would have no choice but to take it up”

The Kentucky Republican’s commentary came during an interview Monday on CNBC in which he was asked about reports suggesting that there was nothing in the Constitution or statutory law that required the Senate to hold a trial if the House were to pass articles of impeachment.

McConnell had previously said earlier in the year that he would have “no choice” other than to take up impeachment and explained to the CNBC host that Senate rules — which would need to a two-thirds majority to be changed — required it.

“So I would have no choice but to take it up,” McConnell said of potential articles of impeachment.

“How long you are on it is a whole different matter, but I would have no choice but to take it up, based on a Senate rule on impeachment,” he clarified, suggesting that even if impeachment was taken up, it could be dropped and put to rest fairly quickly.

Trade issues also loom large

The interview momentarily shifted toward the topic of trade — particularly President Trump’s ongoing trade and tariff war with China, as well as the United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA) on trade that is awaiting a vote in the House.

McConnell expressed his desire to see a “resolution reached soon” on the trade war with China, given the negative impact it was having on agriculture and rural areas, though he also expressed his support for Trump’s ultimate goal to achieve a level trading field with the rival nation.

He also said the USMCA was a “big deal” that was needed just as much as a resolution to the trade war with China.

Senate rules won’t be changed

The conversation shifted back to impeachment as another co-host asked if McConnell would seek to change the rules in the Senate that required articles of impeachment to be considered.

“No, the Senate impeachment rules are very clear,” McConnell replied. “The Senate would have to take up a resolution if it came over from the House.”

The Senate Majority Leader just made it absolutely clear that, should the House pass articles of impeachment against President Trump, the Senate will indeed consider them as required by its own rules. As he noted himself, though, that is a far cry from actually holding a full-fledged trial, much less convicting and removing the president, so Democrats and the media may want to hold off on popping celebratory champagne bottles just yet.

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