McConnell privately says he wants Trump gone as Republicans quietly lobby him to convict




As the House prepares to send articles of impeachment to the Senate on Monday, CNN has learned that dozens of influential Republicans around Washington -- including former top Trump administration officials -- have been quietly lobbying GOP members of Congress to impeach and convict Donald Trump. The effort is not coordinated but reflects a wider battle inside the GOP between those loyal to Trump and those who want to sever ties and ensure he can never run for President again.


The lobbying started in the House after the January 6 attack on the Capitol and in the days leading up to impeachment. But it's now more focused on Sen. Mitch McConnell, the powerful minority leader who has signaled he may support convicting Trump.


"Mitch said to me he wants Trump gone," one Republican member of Congress told CNN. "It is in his political interest to have him gone. It is in the GOP interest to have him gone. The question is, do we get there?"


McConnell had proposed delaying the trial until February, but with the articles coming to the Senate on Monday, the process will likely be set in motion sooner. It would take 17 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats in order to convict. While the bar is high, some GOP sources think there is more of an appetite to punish the former President than is publicly apparent.

"There were 10 House Republicans who voted for impeachment. There were probably over 150 who supported it," said Charlie Dent, a former Republican congressman and CNN contributor.


The ongoing Republican whisper campaign, according to more than a dozen sources who spoke to CNN, is based on a shared belief that a successful conviction is critical for the future of the Republican party. Multiple sources describe this moment as a reckoning for the party.


"Trump created a cult of personality that is hard to dismantle," said a former senior Republican official. "Conviction could do that."


The lobbying effort has included behind-the-scenes pressure by Republican donors, calls from former top Trump White House officials, and a set of talking points circulating among Republicans arguing for Trump's impeachment.


The 9-point memo charges that "it is difficult to find a more anti-conservative outburst by a U.S. president than Donald Trump the last two months." Other points include that Trump "urged supporters from across the nation to come to Washington, DC, to disrupt" Congress on January 6 and egged on the crowd, which was "widely understood to include people who were planning to fight physically, and who were prepared to die in response to his false claims of a 'stolen election.''


The memo goes on to point out Trump "tweeted and made other statements against the Vice President as the Secret Service was being forced to rush Mike Pence out of the Senate chamber and into a protective bunker." It's unclear how widely disseminated the memo is among Republicans in Washington

Source:CNN

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