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McConnell faces growing conservative heat on impeachment

David Catanese, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON — A myriad of conservative voices are warning Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell against doing anything to facilitate a conviction of former President Donald Trump in an impeachment trial that he’s proposing begin next month.

“He has to keep the Republican caucus in line and make sure as few Republicans vote for impeachment as possible,” said Terry Schilling, executive director of the American Principles Project, a northern Virginia-based conservative group that boasts 300,000 national members. “(Impeachment) will deeply divide Republican officeholders and it will infuriate the base.”

McConnell, who this week directly blamed Trump for provoking the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, is not pressuring his Republican caucus members to vote one way or the other in an impeachment trial, according to a Senate aide. Instead, the Kentuckian has framed the choice as a “vote of conscience,” leaving open the option to vote to convict Trump himself.

But his departure from enforcing GOP unity against impeachment has angered some prominent conservative influencers, who began to target McConnell this week.

Sean Hannity, the highly rated Fox News TV host, suggested McConnell step down from his leadership post.

“If you’re not gonna fight, we deserve better,” Hannity said on his daytime radio show. “You can go back to representing the people of Kentucky and let somebody that knows how to lead, lead.”

 

Hannity later echoed his call on his television program: “Mitch, if the choice is, to be frank with you ... weak establishment Republicanism versus America First, I choose the latter.”

Rush Limbaugh, the titan of conservative talk radio, accused McConnell on his program of being the leader of establishment Republicans seizing the moment “to kill off the Trump movement.”

“He’s attempting to impugn it and make it impossible for it to have any credibility going forward,” charged Limbaugh, who then went on to read a story that raised questions about McConnell’s wife’s business ties to the Chinese government.

Amy Kremer, a former chairwoman of the Tea Party Express and co-founder of Women for Trump, blasted McConnell following his comments implicating Trump’s role in the capital riot.

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